THE headline of the Filipino Reporter’s May 20-26, 2011 issue captioned “Mogul refuses to hire Filipino due to her race” is a good column material for my topic this week.

What happened to Ms. Esther Mapili Winkley is a classic case of job discrimination, according to her lawyer David Perecman of The Perecman Law Firm, PLLC.

Restatement of the Employment Discrimination Case

Esther Mapili Winkley, who has been working as a maid to wealthy families for nearly 25 years, claimed in her job discrimination complaint that billionaire Leonard Blavatnik turned down her application in February to work at Blavatnik’s mansion on East 64th Street in Manhattan.

On Feb. 28, Ms. Winkley cleaned the fireplace and vacuumed the floors of Blavatnik’s mansion.

When she followed up her job application several weeks later, Mr. Blavatnik’s butler Wilfredo Balmaceda allegedly wrote an e-mail to Mr. Adrian Smith, the head hunter alleging that her problem is her race, that she is from the Philippines.

According to Smith, the e-mail is pure discrimination.

Civil Rights Act of 1964

According to Ms. Winkley’s lawyer David Perecman, the employment discrimination case against Mr. Blavatnik is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title VII of the above Act, codified as Subchapter VI of Chapter 21 of 42 United States Code, prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

However, an employer is permitted to discriminate on the basis of a protected trait where the trait is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonable necessary to the normal operation of that particular business.

To prove this defense, an employer must prove three elements:

1. A direct relationship between sex and the ability to perform the duties of the job.

2. The defense relates to the essence or central mission of the employer’s business.

3. There is no less-restrictive or reasonable alternative.

Enforcement agencies: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and certain state Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPA) enforce Title VII.

These agencies investigate, mediate and may file lawsuits on behalf of employees.

Title VII also provides that an individual can bring a private lawsuit.

Title VII only applies to employers who employs 15 or more employees for 20 or more weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

In the case at bar, Ms. Winkley’s lawyer David Perecman filed the employment discrimination complaint with the New York City Human Rights Commission.

Title VII also provides that the complainant can bring a separate lawsuit against Mr. Blavatnik.

Author’s comment

For a decade-and-a-half, I handled the advertisements of head hunters for wealthy American families from New York, the Hamptons, Coral Gables and Miami, Florida and the preference of these well-heeled families are Filipino nannies, housekeepers and couples.

Maybe next time, Ms. Winkley applies for a nanny/housekeeper job, she should look up the classified advertisements of the Filipino Reporter regularly.

If she is lucky, she may come across the advertisements of my two clients, Helping Hands Agency of Potomac, Maryland and Mahler Private Staffing of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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