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Cancer patient Baby Jane settles labor case with employer for $30k

15 April 2019


By Daisy CL Mandap
Baby Jane is assisted by a local union in pursuing her claims

Ailing Filipina domestic worker Baby Jane Allas has settled her labor claims against her former employer for $30,000, during a half-day hearing at the Labour Tribunal on Apr 15 before Principal Presiding Officer Eric Tam.

The settlement, covering unpaid wages, a month’s salary in lieu of notice, return air ticket, travel allowance and half-day pay for days off not fully spent, was without prejudice to Allas pursuing cases in the Equal Opportunities Commission or other courts.

Not included in the settlement was the Filipina’s claim for damages over her supposed illegal dismissal. She had originally claimed a total of $46,365 against her Pakistani employer, Jamil Bushra, who allegedly dismissed her after learning that she had stage 3 cervical cancer.
Interviewed after the hearing, Allas, 38, a native of Palawan and a single mother of five children, said she was not happy with the settlement, and will definitely pursue her EOC case to win full justice.

She said all the statements made by Bushra through her brother-in-law who acted as her representative at the hearing, were all untrue.

“Lahat ng sinabi ng employer ko na depensa nila, mali po iyan. Naglabas sila ng ebidensya na hindi totoo.”

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WALKOUT IN COURT

The hearing was marred by the walkout of one elderly spectator who openly protested the way Tam had castigated Allas earlier for insisting that her employer should have been told to appear at the tribunal, instead of sending her brother-in-law.

“Just tell the court what you want! The defendant is pregnant and will deliver within a month or so, and she authorized this gentleman and I accepted it,” said Tam in a stern voice.

At this point, the woman spectator stood up and shouted, “She (Allas) has stage 4 cancer, for goodness’ sake! I am leaving this courtroom!”.
Tam shouted “Shut up!” back at the woman, who walked out before she could be escorted out by security staff of the courtroom.

Earlier, Bushra’s representative, referred to only as “Mr. Shahajahan”, told the court the employer is pregnant, and is likely to give birth in May or early June. She has reportedly been vomiting, and has been advised by her doctor “not to travel.” However, she is said to be just at home in Hong Kong, resting.


CONFLICTING CLAIMS

At one point, the representative cried in open court, saying “My sister-in-law is pregnant, my father-in-law has a heart problem. But because she (Allas) is sick she asked to be allowed to live with her sister, and we agreed.”

The next thing they knew, he said, the family was put in a bad light for allegedly sacking Allas while she was gravely ill.

He said the family had a good relationship with Allas, and that they were all “shocked” when they heard that she had cancer. As a gesture of goodwill, he said the family was willing to offer $40,000 to settle all her claims, including the one before the EOC.

His claim was, however, denied by Allas. She told the tribunal that she was made to sleep in a storage room under the stairs, and was made to do chores like walking and feeding the dog, before and after taking her day off.

She also said she was dismissed by her employer through a letter given to her while she was still on sick leave.

“Nagmakaawa po ang kapatid ko na huwag putulin ang kontrata ko,” Allas said, referring to her sister Mary Ann, whose employer, Jessica Cutrera, eventually offered her shelter, and waged a successful media campaign to shed light on her plight.
 
Baby Jane with 2 of her 5 kids who flew into HK to give her support 

FUND DRIVE RAISES $1M

To date, the funding campaign started by Cutrera has raised nearly $1million for Allas’ treatment. The money has also funded the visit of her two children and other relatives from the Philippines.

A foundation run by the high-end Adventist Hospital in Mid-Levels has also stepped forward to help, and has so far funded three chemotherapy sessions for Allas. Two more are said to have been lined up for her at the hospital.

According to Cutrera, Allas was recommended for sick leave between Jan 25 to Feb. 14, then Feb 16-18, during which her cancer was confirmed to be an advanced stage 3 cervical adenocarcinoma.

But on Feb. 17, while she was supposed to be on sick leave, her employer gave her a termination letter, stating that her last date of employment was Feb. 19.

The letter reportedly stated:

Your last working day was 24 January 2019…
Reason for termination (if any): Diagnosed with cervical cancer…
Given your medical conditions, I am no longer able to continue your employment effective from 19 February 2019.
Wish you good health.”

Cutrera said that because Allas’ employer had wrongfully terminated their contract, the helper lost the right to remain in Hong Kong and avail of free public health care.

However, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Hong Kong says Allas was still scheduled for follow-up treatment at Tuen Mun Hospital after she was discharged following her cancer diagnosis.

Welfare officer Virsie Tamayao said Allas had even asked for her treatment to be continued at Queen Mary Hospital in Pokfulam which was nearer to where she was staying, but when this was declined, agreed to return to Tuen Mun Hospital.'
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