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Pinay fights discrimination

The EyeBy Joseph G. Lariosa
CHICAGO – Stereotypes die hard.
A racial slur heaped against Filipinos has once again reared its ugly head when a female shopper, a Filipino American nurse, formally brought it to the attention of the Chicago city government. The use of the offensive language this time took place in the workplace at the private sector.
I thought the racial insult that was roundly denounced by Filipino Americans was already buried in 1994 and forgotten in 2007. I am referring to NBC sitcom character Kelsie Grammer blurting out in one of the episodes of Frasier that for another $5,000 youll be able to get a brand new Filipina bride.”
But lo and behold, a female shopper in Chicago , Illinois was pleasantly shocked this month when she entered H & M Hennes & Mauritz, a Swedish retail giant, on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. A Caucasian male employee in his 20s to early 30s, who was adjusting clothing on a rack, raised his right hand and said, Mail-order bride in the house and ran towards a fellow employee, a brunette, and together, they started laughing.
Since there was no other shopper within three or four racks of me, the shopper, Frannie L. Richards, said she was shocked and disgusted these white employees implied I was a whore and could not understand why he would say anything so derogatory.”
She said she thought she was going to have vasal-vagal reaction (I could hear my heartbeat in my ear and thought I was going to faint.) I felt like crying but refused to give him the satisfaction. I had a red bag and was wearing black pants and a long denim coat. I am an Asian American woman.”
Because she wanted to get the names of the two employes, Ms. Richards approached them and asked him if she could try on clothes, the man rudely pointed to the fitting rooms at the end of the room and said, Can (sic) you read that sign, it says fitting room, suggesting that I was unable to read English (as he exaggerated the intonation).”
She said as she walked away, the man started muttering under his breath and making a mocking noise like ching, ching, chong. She felt degraded and upset.”
Because of her frustration, she asked to talk to a department manager named Tom who could not even provide her the name of the offending employee.
Because she felt helpless, she left. But her friends coached her to go back and get the name of the harasser. When she came back, she was accompanied by a friend as a witness.
She looked for another manager. This time, Greg, could only tell her that his harassing subordinate will first get a verbal warning, and if it happens again, then it would be written down.”
She said she was told the employees name is Joseph H. whose position is called a visual merchandiser.
Because she wanted Joseph H. fired, Ms. Richard filed a discrimination complaint against him for violating Chapter 2-160 of the Chicago Municipal Code. It guards against discrimination, including anti-Asian and sex-based discrimination, when discriminatory incident takes place in Chicago and involves employment, housing, public accommodations, credit or bonding.
She filed the case before the Commission on Human Relations of the City of Chicago.
She is assisted by Atty. Myron Dean Quon, Asian American Institute Legal Director. Ms. Quon said Anti-Asian, xenophobic and misogynist verbal attacks still happen on a daily basis. Asian American women, like Ms. Richards, should never have to deal with this type of harassment, in Chicago no less.
As a registered nurse and retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Staff Sergeant, I knew that I had to enforce my civil rights for myself and other Asian American women. Because H & M refused to discipline this employee, I immediately thought of my own female relatives and friends. The workplace usage of disparaging anti-Asian slurs should require the termination of that H & M employee,” Ms. Richards insisted.
I tried to reach H & M for comment. I was referred to its New York office. But my call was not returned.
I called up the Citys Commission on Human Relations. Its investigator, Mr. Peter Oakley, told me that H & M has 30 days to respond to the complaint filed by Ms. Richards. H& M can ask for an extension of two weeks. The CHR will have to resolve the matter in 180 days. Afterwards, a conciliation conference between the parties follows. If either side agrees or disagrees, either side can file an appeal within 30 days.
If they don?t come to an agreement, any of the parties can take the matter up to the Cook County Circuit Court.
A discrimination complaint should be filed within 180 days after the occurrence of the discriminatory incident.
I just hope Ms. Richards will get the relief she is seeking under the law, including emotional distress, damages, injunctive relief, attorneys fees, costs, etc.
Lets keep our fingers crossed. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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