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Filipina wins claim vs. boss, but gets less money

23 June 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

A domestic worker who was fired after allegedly refusing to work illegally, won her case at the Labour Tribunal on June 1 when her former boss agreed to settle – but for substantially less than her claim.

Mila San Andres was claiming $12,000 from the employer, Rajendram Satish, for wage in lieu of notice, arrears in wage, meal allowance, air ticket to Manila, and travel allowance.

In the end, the Filipina agreed to a $9,500 settlement.

The helper took her case to the tribunal shortly after Satish terminated her contract on Mar 27 this year without giving her a one-month notice. She had just completed her second month working for Satish and his family.

When presiding officer David Chum asked why she was claiming compensation from the employer, San Andres said Satish paid her only $2,000, instead of $4,310, for her first month of employment.

San Andres said when she asked Satish about the balance of her monthly salary, he allegedly told her to do extra work for other people so she could earn the full amount. The Filipina said the unpaid salary became a source of argument between her and Satish.

Chum asked Satish why he did not pay San Andres in full, but the employer replied he paid her fully.

When the presiding officer asked for proofs of payment, the defendant said, “I had a record but now it’s gone…I kept the documents in my house but she took them away when she left.”

The judge warned Satish that if the case went to trial, he would be required to present evidence that he paid his maid, and if he failed to do so, he would lose his case.

“More important, if you fail to pay the wages, it is a criminal offense, then Labour Department will prosecute you and if you lose, you will go to prison,” Chum told the employer.

The defendant insisted he kept the proof of payment in his house but that the helper took it along with other documents that he kept in a plastic folder.

“When you gave the wages, you let her sign a document. Where did you keep the document? In the bedroom, under your pillow, in the toilet?” Chum asked, visibly annoyed.  Satish stuck with his story, so the judge asked him why he did not call the police when what the maid did was theft, but the employer said he reported the matter to the Immigration Department.

“Let me put it this way, if she took your Rolex watch, will you report to the Immigration?” Chum asked the defendant.

Chum warned the employer that if he failed to prove in trial that San Andres took the documents, he would be in deep trouble, as the judge would not believe him.

He said if the Filipina left because of Satish’s suggestion that she took up illegal work, she was entitled to go. He added that he did not believe the employer’s claim the maid stole the documents because he had no proof.

Chum asked both parties if they were willing to give some ground and try to reach a settlement. San Andres hesitated, but Chum explained she now appeared to be the winner if the case went to trial, but there was no guarantee she could collect her money if the defendant still refused to pay.

With San Andres and Satish agreeing to settle, Chum sent them down to the Tribunal Officer to work out the settlement. When they returned to the courtroom half an hour later, the employer paid San Andres $9,500 as full and final settlement.

San Andres told The SUN after the hearing that she would look for a new employer, and if successful, would process her documents before going home to her family in Laguna to wait for her new work visa.

She said she had been working in Hong Kong for the past 21 years and survived some bad employers, but that her recent employer was a very different experience.

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