Meg Whitman Housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan -Illegal Immigrant
Meg Whitman Housekeeper: Illegal Immigrant Nicky Diaz Santillan Hires Celebrity Lawyer Gloria Allred, Lawsuit Claim for Unpaid Overtime and Mileage
The race for California Governor took an unexpected turn on Wednesday as Nicky Diaz Santillan, a former nanny, maid, housekeeper and driver for Meg Whitman held a news conference today at the offices of her celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred.
Meg Whitman the former CEO of eBay is in a tight race against former California governor Jerry Brown.
Nicky Diaz Santillan claims that she worked as a maid or housekeeper for Meg Whitman for nine years until June 2009, and that Meg Whitman and her husband Dr. Griffith Harsh knew she was an undocumented illegal alien.
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The news conference, streamed live on TMZ, opened with lawyer Gloria Allred making a statement saying that nanny Nicky Diaz Santillan, an undocumented worker, was "exploited and humiliated by Whitman."
Allred says Nicky was initially hired to clean the house for $23/hour for a maximum of 15 hours a week. Allred continues to say that Meg Whitman not only asked Nicky to do other duties including driving and nanny duties and did not pay for overtime or for mileage.
But Nicky's apparent mistreatment apparently went beyond unpaid wages and mileage issues.
Allred cited the example that Nicky asked for maternity leave in March 2005. Allred claims Whitman told Nicky she would have to find her own replacement during her leave, otherwise Nicky would lose her job
Most importantly is the issue of Nicky Diaz Santillan's immigration status. An illegal immigrant, Nicky did not have proper documentation and Allred is alleging that Meg Whitman knew about Nicky's situation.
Allred cites a specific incident where Whitman allegedly received a letter from the social security administration pointing out an apparent mismatch between Nicki's name and the name on the social insurance card.
Apparently, the Whitman household continued to receive letters about the apparent mismatch but did nothing, referring them back to Nicky or throwing them in the trash, even though government regulations require employers to respond to such letters.
Gloria Allred asked rhetorically, was Whitman engaging in a form of "don't ask, don't tell" when it came to Nicky's immigration status?
Allred alleges that Meg Whitman told Nicky about her candidacy for governor in April 2009.
In June 2009, Allred says, Nicky spoke to Ms. Whitman and her husband Dr. Harsh for help to get legalization.
At that point Nicky Diaz Santillan picks up the story:
"I explained that I was married and our economic situation in Mexico was very bad...no job, no food, no place to live and that is why we came here...and that is why I need help... Ms. Whitman just laughed (Nicki starts to cry)...
"Dr. Harsh came in and said 'I told you she was going to bring us problems.'
"Ms Whitman said, 'calm down, calm down' (Nicky breaks down and cries).
"I told them I believe in people and I told them people deserve a chance. I told them I don't wish them any harm.
"Ms.. Whitman said 'I don't know what I can do but let me see what my lawyer can do.'
"On Wednesday June 29 she called me, 'I talked to my lawyer and he told me can not do anything for you she said, I cannot help and don't say anything to my children, I will tell them you have a new job, and have gone to school....I don't know you, and you don't know me, I have never seen you, and you have never seen me, understand' (continues to cry)"
She throws me away like a piece of garbage
I'm doing this because I know there are a lot of Meg's out there...."
Nicky Diaz Santillan is still an illegal, undocumented worker in the U.S. and it is unclear whether she will be deported or not. Her immigration lawyer is Marc Van Derhoot and he said they are exploring their options to help Nicky stay and work in the U.S.
Gloria Allred is a Democratic supporter who has donated money the Jerry Brown campaign.
Prior to the news conference Meg Whitman's campaign said they will fight against the accusations
Whitman spokeswoman Andrea Rivera called Allred a "shameful manipulator" and questioned the timing of her announcement, which comes less than five weeks before the election.
In a conference call prior to the Allred news conference, the Whitman campaign added this response.
Whitman lawyer Tom Hiltachk said the employee was hired in 2000 and provided standard forms showing she was a lawful permanent resident. He said that in June 2009 the employee confessed she was not a legal resident and used false documents to gain employment.
Hiltachk said the employee was subsequently fired.
Stutzman said the employee was "close to the family" and that the situation saddened Whitman.