Saturday 20 November 2010

Meg Whitman pays ex-maid $5,500 settlement

Meg Whitman, who spent $145.1 million of her own money in an unsuccessful bid for California governor, agreed Wednesday to write one more check - this time for $5,500 to Nicandra Diaz Santillan, her undocumented former housekeeper whose charges of financial abuse became a turning point in the billionaire's race against Jerry Brown.
"We're very, very happy about the settlement," said celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who accompanied Diaz, an East Bay mother of three, to an informal hearing before the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement in San Jose, where the settlement was announced.
Allred said Diaz, who worked for Whitman for nine years before being fired last year, believes she has received wages that were long due.
"Nicky never wants to see Meg Whitman or Dr. Harsh again; she will be very happy to have them out of her life and to focus on what's really important ... moving on with her life and her family," Allred said. "The larger message is, if you're Meg Whitman or anyone else, if you hire someone you need to pay them."
Whitman's husband, Stanford neurosurgeon Griffith Harsh, attended Wednesday's hearing but declined to comment to reporters.
Whitman and Harsh's attorney, Dennis Brown, said they did not admit to any of the claims for back wages. But he said that because the couple did not keep time cards during Diaz's employment, they agreed to settle the issue.
Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for Republican Whitman during her campaign, dismissed Diaz's claims as "the last dying gasp" of a political circus and a "purely frivolous claim."
Diaz became a symbol for immigrants' rights after she went public with her claims of unpaid wages. She said she was fired after asking Whitman for help becoming a legal citizen. In a widely viewed news conference in late September, a sobbing Diaz recalled how Whitman left a voice mail telling her that "you don't know me and I don't know you."
Bounds declined to comment Wednesday on whether any of Whitman's well-paid campaign consultants were aware of Diaz and the potential scandal.
"I'm not going to get into the strategy of a campaign that was, regrettably, less successful than it should have been - and an unfortunate outcome for the people of California," he said.

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