Sunday, May 22, 2011
Housekeeper says billionaire discriminates against Filipinos
JERSEY CITY, NJ – Jersey City resident Esther Winkley has been a housekeeper for New York’s rich and famous for 25 years.
But when the 55-year-old Filipina applied for a head of housekeeper position for New York billionaire Len Blavatnik early this year, Winkley claims she was not hired because of her ethnic background.
Blavatnik is the 31st richest man in the US. Blavatnik recently bought Warner Music, but most of his wealth comes from his company called Access Industries, that owns 50% of energy giant TNK-BP.
Winkley said she applied for a job at the Russian billionaire’s $50 million dollar residence on 64th Street in New York last February.
Winkley also worked with Blavatnik’s butler Wilfredo Balmaceda for a trial day in March.
She said, “Wilfredo called from his office and said everything went well today, actually the housekeeper likes you very much, she enjoyed working with you.”
But in a complaint Winkley filed at the New York Commission on Human Rights, the document states that on March 15, Blavatnik’s butler – Wilfredo Balmaceda – declined to offer Winkley the job stating in an email to Winkley’s agent that she was “not the right fit for the family.”
Winkley said her employment agent was about to send another Filipino domestic helper to the Blavatnik’s for interview…when the butler Balmaceda sent an e-mail back to the agent saying, “No Philippines, Thanks.” He further went on to say that, “Sorry new directions, no Philippine.”
Winkley said, “I was furious, I said what? No Philippines? I said, what do they think of Filipinos?”
In an e-mail to Balitang America, the billionaire’s representative Mike Sitrick said, the Balavatnik’s are not available for interview but sent this statement instead.
“Any charge of discrimination by the Blavatniks is ludicrous. The fact is, employees at the Blavatnik residence come from various background including individuals from the Philippines. Mr. Smith, Winkley’s agent – had been sending unqualified candidates for months.”
Winkley said she filed a complaint at the New York Commission on Human Rights to fight not only for her own right but for the rights of Filipino domestic workers in New York as well.
Winkley said, “It’s discrimination. They don’t have any Filipinos working for them, they not only do not want to hire Filipinos, they don’t even want to interview Filipinos.”
In a phone conversation with Balitang America, the Communications Director of the Human Rights Commission said Winkley’s complaint is now under investigation and there may be other Filipino domestic workers involved in this case.
The first hearing is scheduled on June 9 at the Commission on Human Rights office in New York.