Thursday, September 30, 2010

What’s in it for Nicky Diaz Santillan?

I blogged yesterday about the whole Meg Whitman/illegal maid/Gloria Allred drama.  I have to admit that I can’t stop thinking about it, because none of what Gloria Allred and Nicky Diaz are doing makes any logical sense to me, given the potential legal repercussions for Diaz.  It seems to me that she has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Gloria Allred called a press conference yesterday, and through her statements made clear that the following three things are true: (1) Nicky Diaz is in the country illegally; (2) Nicky Diaz used false social security number; and (3) Nicky Diaz lied on her I-9 application, a felony. Today Allred had another press conference, where she discussed a letter allegedly sent from the Social Security Administration to Meg Whitman and her husband in 2003, which sought verification of Diaz’s social security number. Interestingly enough, the document says that in and of itself, you can’t take adverse action or fire the employee because you received it. Huh. Based on this, Allred claims Whitman knew that Diaz was illegal in 2003.

All of this comes out in what is admittedly a case for back wages and mileage, a case which has not yet even been filed with the courts. Is that fishy or what? Most people do the press conference after the case is filed.  Why hasn’t this purportedly strong lawsuit been filed? Is it because a Judge in a lawsuit could issue a gag order, which could prevent all of these press conferences?  Why is Gloria Allred holding press conferences rather than filing the Complaint? Does a case like this really require multiple press conferences? Of course not. In fact, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Gloria Allred last night and she stated:
HH: All right. Let me ask you then.
GA: This is not about whether she should have terminated the housekeeper or not terminated the housekeeper.

HH: Well, what should she have done?

GA: This is about her treatment of the housekeeper.
Oh, really? Then why all the press conferences focusing on the illegal immigrant issue? More hilariously, if you read the transcript linked above, Gloria Allred refuses to even state what the law is and what you should do if you discover one of your employees is an illegal immigrant. Does she even know? Yet she is vilifying Meg Whitman?

What is really trying to be accomplished here, and why would Nicky Diaz “out” herself like this and subject herself to deportation and/or criminal prosecution? Why?

Assume for a moment that Meg Whitman did find out that Nicky Diaz was in the country illegally back in 2003, which is what both Diaz and Allred claim. While the argument appears to be that Nicky was taken advantage of by Whitman because she knew Diaz was illegal (and thus made her work more hours than she was paid for), they can’t have it both ways. (Also, good luck convincing a jury that $23 an hour is “cheap help.”) For example, they can’t call Whitman a hypocrite for not following legal procedures back in 2003 (assuming she knew) while at the same time calling her “cold and heartless” and treating Diaz like “garbage” when she fired Diaz in 2009 when Diaz admitted she was illegal. Would Whitman have been as “cold and heartless” if she had fired Diaz back in 2003? Is Diaz angry she got six extra years of employment?

Things are getting all mucked up in what Whitman should have done and what she knew regarding the immigration issue, when the actual issues appear to be these: (1) What was the employment agreement between Diaz and Whitman? (2) How many hours per week was Diaz contracted to work and at what rate? (3) How many hours did Diaz work each week and for how many was she compensated? How did she track her time, and did she show them time cards (or other documentation) that she was working more hours than contracted each week? (4) Was there an agreement that she would be reimbursed for mileage? (5) If so, did she ever ask for this reimbursement? Was it denied? What was the reason?

Now Allred is calling Diaz the “Rosa Parks of the Latino community.” Are you kidding me? This is an employment law issue, not an immigration issue. Even Allred admitted today in the press conference that the monetary damages they were seeking weren’t very much. So how badly did Diaz really get screwed? Were there a few weeks over the nine years that she worked 17 hours instead of 15 and didn’t get paid for it? Diaz is definitely courageous to allow her attorney to admit that she’s illegal and has committed one or more felonies, but that does not make her Rosa Parks. Also, by the by, illegal immigrants aren’t the only people who get screwed over by their employers.

The point of it all appears to solely be that Meg Whitman is a hypocrite: arguing for punishing employers of illegal immigrants, while employing one herself. Interesting, too, that all of this is happening now, one month prior to elections, years after these supposedly “nightmare” events occurred, and fifteen months after Diaz was fired.

I just cannot wrap my brain around what Nicky Diaz has to gain by coming forward in this manner. I'm convinced she has to be getting something out of this because most people don't voluntarily come forward and admit to committing felonies.  She has two or three children. What happens to them if she gets deported? Through the employment application papers, we also now know that she has eight brothers and sisters who are also in this country. Are they all legal? Why would she bring attention to them? Why even take the risk? If indeed she does have a valid claim for back wages and mileage, that sort of case does not require a national press conference or any sort of discussion relating to her immigration status. Whether or not she got taken advantage of is frankly, moot, depending on what their employment contract specified (which she agreed to), and what she is able to prove regarding her hours worked versus her hours paid and her mileage. This is not rocket science. She also had the option to quit. (I know, I know, I don’t understand her situation and it’s not so easy to find a job, etc. But still, that was an option if she felt she was being treated unfairly. It makes zero sense to me when people make allegations like “I was only paid to work 15 hours a week but I actually worked 40 or 50.” I mean, who does that?)

The entire thing stinks like Vula’s house on Hoarders.

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