Community News Briefs

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HAWAI’I RESIDENT CLAIMS HE WAS FIRED BECAUSE HE IS “SAMOAN”

A Samoan man, who claims he was fired by a security guard company because of his Samoan ancestry has filed a civil rights lawsuit in the federal court in Honolulu, seeking an unknown amount of money to be determined by a jury.

Honolulu resident Saute Sapolu alleges in the Aug. 8th lawsuit that his employment with Star Protection Agency LLC, was terminated Sept. 13, 2016 “due to discrimination based on [his] national origin and ancestry — Samoan — and sex, male.”

Sapolu, who was hired by Star Protection in 2012, was sent home on Sept. 10, 2016 during his shift, after one of the company’s clients “accused plaintiff of verbally threatening him and his wife," the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit further notes that Sapolu was informed three days later by his supervisor that he was discharged from his job for making threatening comments to a client. Despite completely denying the allegation and an attempt to explain himself, Sapolu’s supervisor told him to “shut up” and “just by the way plaintiff looks, he believes plaintiff said what the client alleged.”

Sapolu denies any wrongdoing, the lawsuit said and alleges that if not for plaintiff’s national origin, ancestry, and sex, Sapolu would not have been terminated by his former employer.

The lawsuit came after the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) dismissed early this year, Sapolu’s complaint against his former employer, who has since asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit which, if it were to proceed further, the defendant  “would be prepared to demonstrate how devoid of merit the claims are,” court documents note.

Among the “defects” cited by the defendant is that a “very significant portion” of the company’s workforce “shares both a gender and a national origin with Plaintiff, and are clearly not discriminated against on that basis.”

Additionally, the plaintiff “voluntarily resigned”, but was not terminated. Furthermore, the defendant’s actions with respect to the incident referenced in the lawsuit would have been more than sufficient to justify termination.

Late last month, Sapolu asked the court to deny the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case, arguing — among other things — that he should be permitted a jury trial on all claims asserted.

According to court records, a settlement conference hearing is set for July 2018 and if nothing is resolved, trial will proceed in October 2018.

ALOFA FOAI FUA COLLECTS ITEMS FOR THE LESS FORTUNATE

Last Friday, Dec. 8th, was the last day for donations to the Alofa Foai Fua project, a community service drive that the folks with Pacific Global Citizens Inc. have been coordinating over the past few months.

President /founder of the group, Patrick T. Reid, told Samoa News last week that the goal of the project is to donate "canned food, toys, and gently used items to our children and families in need this holiday season - be they at shelters, the pediatric ward, LBJ Medical Center, the Territorial Correctional Facility, etc."

There were a handful of drop-off locations for those who wanted to donate (Tutuila Stores - Nuuuli, Petesa, Tafuna; TJ's Gym- Tafuna; ASTCA- Tafuna, Nuuuli; Dept. of Youth and Women's Affairs- Pago Pago; and Panama's Tire Shop- Leone).

Reid said they were able to partner with and receive support from various governmental organizations as well as NGOs, to include: the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority; Dept. of Youth and Women's Affairs; Dept. of Human and Social Services; Leone High School Green Club; other high school organizations; Lions Club of American Samoa; the American Samoa Red Cross. and KHJ Radio.

"We are a locally incorporated organization that is currently undergoing 501c3 review from IRS as we speak, and our mission is community service with a focus on youth development," Reid said. "Our officers and volunteers are employees of the public sector and have an interest and passion for community service."

In addition to Reid, other officers from the group include vice president Aioletuna Sunia, and secretary/treasurer Jewel Tuiasosopo.

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