FilAm group mulls class action lawsuit vs PGCPS
WASHINGTON D.C.—A Filipino American legal support group is considering filing a class suit against Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) for “discrimination and unfair labor practices.”
The Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF), which is assisting hundreds of Filipino teachers in who are set to lose their jobs at the PGCPS, also condemned school officials’ for “blatant discrimination” and for “treating us like chattel.”
Hundreds of Filipino teachers are “desperately hanging on to their jobs” after the US Department of Labor barred PGCPS from hiring foreign teachers for two years, FALDEF said in a statement.
“This is a very urgent issue for our Filipino American community and we should all rally behind our teachers and give our full support,” said FALDEF president J.T. Mallonga.
The labor department has banned PGCPS from hiring Filipino and other foreign teachers for two years because the school system “willfully violated H-1B visa rules” by requiring the teachers to pay visa and other fees that should have been shouldered by the employer, said FALDEF.
“As a result, hundreds of teachers could lose their jobs and sent back to the Philippines. The Prince George’s County school district has been sponsoring work visas for hundreds of teachers from the Philippines in the last six years,” it said.
At a meeting called Thursday by the Philippine Embassy, lawyers and other support groups provided suggestions on how to “assist the teachers in mapping out a course of action.”
Among the options discussed is a class action suit against PGCPS for “discrimination and unfair labor practices.”
Personal testimonies from three teachers described in “strong emotional terms” how they are being “unfairly punished” and “victimized” by a school system that failed to comply with the law. They also condemned school officials’ for “blatant discrimination” and for “treating us like chattel.”
After their presentations, the more than 500 teachers who gathered at the Philippine Multicultural Center in Oxon Hill decided to hold protest rallies in front of labor department’s headquarters in Washington D.C. and the PGCPS offices.
“We are determined to make noise and fight back,” says Millet Panga, a leader of the Philippine Educators Network (PEN), an umbrella of Filipino teachers in PGCPS. “We’re calling on the Filipino American community and labor unions to stand with us against this injustice.”