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Dear Editor,

A simple request turned into a 13-month campaign to pressure a senior 61 y/o employee to resign or retire from her position as an archaeological technician in the American Samoa Historic Preservation Office. 

In May 2018, this employee was hired and  tasked to reconstruct or restore a database that was either destroyed, lost or deleted prior to her being hired. It contained over 7000 sites. In order for this newly hired employee to achieve this task it required for her to travel to either the library in Utulei or the archives office in Tafuna to perform the research. The database can only be accessed in the system installed in the Tafuna office. The frustration was returning to the main office finding she is locked out during normal duty hours and the entire staff absent. The curious fact is that all 4 members of the staff each held a key to the office.

After several unsuccessful attempts and requests made to the Director of ASHPO for a key to the office, the employee went to speak with the local EEO officer for guidance. She was advised to first write a letter to the Director of her request and intentions. The outcome was disastrous. (Samoa News op-ed 6/11/19, 6/27/19)

It resulted in the employee being viciously yelled at by the Deputy Director HC Teleiai Christian Ausage. He threatened her with physical violence, using his cultural ranks and 10 chiefly titles to crush her, and cause the loss of her job. More frightening to the victim was all this display of brute power was demonstrated in front of the Director, Mrs Leticia Peau Folau. The victim asked why she did not intervene as the boss. The Director’s answer was, “No wonder Chris was angry, you threatened to go to the EEO.” 

Due to lack of confidence in the local EEO and ASG system, the employee was forced to seek help from a victims advocate as a last resort. She was immediately referred to the Equal Employment Office Commission in Honolulu. Her case is pending.

Unfortunately, the victim is now facing a form of retaliation — being oppressed in the work office. Her movements are now strictly monitored and documented. Opportunities to highlight ASHPO she is qualified to represent are blocked and she is forced to take annual leave if she gets involved or when leaving the office.

According to Eseta Iosefa, the local EEO officer, “There is nothing they can do, if the employee does not come in to file a complaint.'' Even if their office is aware of the situation, they cannot inquire or look into the allegations. It’s amusing to know, with ASG stinking of nepotism, how can you not think out of the box to help your people who are wrongfully treated.

For the local EEO and ASG office to selectively use disclaimers to ignore a wrongful act being done under their watch is negligent and just wrong. Using a victim’s choice to go above their head because of the victim’s lack of trust and confidence in them, should not be used against the victim as is in this case.

This attitude leads me to believe, there is no proactive or preventive measures within ASG to address age, sex discrimination or retaliation and if there is, there is wide spread non compliance. There is no commitment by ASG to address issues involving the governor's cabinet members. The ASHPO Director and her entitled Deputy are allowed to run roughshod over employees, in this case, an older and senior woman. 

How can this victimized older woman live and work to her fullest potential when she is head-locked by a system that cowers under fear and insecurities of their own making. 

I would expect the current Dir. of Human Resources Mrs. Eseneiaso Liu to take the lead in EEO affairs. After all, she successfully sued her Director/ the American Samoa Government, Department of Human Resources , Case No. CV11-00525-JMS-RLP. on age discrimination in Aug. 2011.

To her credit and courageous stand against the injustices in the Togiola administration, the EEOC won her case for her.

Ipu Lefiti

Victims Advocate

(Editor’s Note: Perhaps the case lies more in the fact that the senior 61 y/o employee is a palagi — and points to a more insidious underlying factor — RACISM.

ASHPO is a federally funded agency, and according to its website, it receives federal funds from the National Park Service. On the website, the following is stated in the disclaimer:

“Regulations of the Department of the Interior strictly prohibit unlawful discrimination in departmental federally assisted programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, age or handicap. Any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility operated by a recipient of federal assistance should write to: 

Director, Equal Opportunity Program

Department of the Interior

National Park Service

P.O. Box 37127

Washington, DC 20240-0036

Just a thought… ra)