Los Angeles, 10 September 2013 – On the occasion of Labor Rights Week 2013, Consul General Maria Hellen Barber Dela Vega expressed support for the US Department of Labor’s (US DOL) initiative to educate Filipino migrant workers on labor rights.
On 5 September 2013, Consul General Dela Vega chaired a panel discussion to discuss issues concerning labor, with the underlying goal of informing the Filipino community that labor laws apply to all workers in the US regardless of their immigration status.
In her discussion, Director Kimchi Bui of the Wage and Hour Division, Los Angeles District Office, US DOL, highlighted the migrant workers’ vulnerability to exploitation. She encouraged the audience to afford themselves of available federal mechanisms in order to protect their labor rights.
Mr. Angelo Gustavo, Alternate Dispute Coordinator at the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, made a presentation focusing on federal laws which prohibit employment practices that discriminate on grounds of race, sex, religion, and ethnicity. While there are cases where the employer does not intentionally discriminate against applicants or employees, the employer’s actions may have the effect of depriving, or otherwise adversely affecting, individuals with respect to employment opportunities.
Mr. Gustavo informed the audience that in cases of employment discrimination, an effective dispute mediation offers the offended employee with an opportunity to be heard and understood. The wronged employee also stands a greater chance of getting more in a financial settlement.
Atty. C. Joe Sayas, Jr. – a noted employment litigator in Los Angeles, – shared common stories of exploitation in the workplace. He also discussed the aspects of employment litigation, including investigations, settlement negotiation, trial, and the monitoring and enforcement of court orders for relief. He emphasized that employment litigation involves complex issues.
In closing, Consul General Dela Vega happily announced that the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles is in the process of forging alliances with district and regional offices of the Wage and Hour Division, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the US DOL to reach out to Filipino workers and communities and inform them about their labor rights.