Ex-IPI employee amends lawsuit to includes race discrimination claim

A former employee of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC has amended his lawsuit against IPI in federal court by adding a race discrimination claim and adding more details.

In an amended complaint filed last Sunday, Joshua Gray is suing IPI for wrongful termination in violation of public policy (immigration violations), race discrimination, wrongful failure to hire, and infliction of emotional distress.

In the original complaint, Gray sued IPI with the same claims except for race discrimination. The original complaint also has two counts of wrongful failure to hire.

IPI has denied the allegations.

Gray, through William F. Fitzgerald, is seeking unspecified damages.

Fitzgerald

Among the additional details in the amended complaint is that Gray was allegedly informed in March and April 2018 that his job responsibilities would be changed to assist with a “floating hotel,” an IPI project that never materialized.

Fitzgerald said that Gray had complained to IPI’s legal counsel that this assignment is a demotion. IPI’s counsel allegedly ignored that complaint.

Fitzgerald said that in November 2018, Gray was told by IPI’s human resource department that his name was on a list of people to be fired.

In January 2019, a senior IPI executive allegedly told Gray that he had been instructed to fire him, but the senior executive refused to do so, saying he was the only one in the company qualified to run hotel operations for IPI.

Fitzgerald said the IPI owner allegedly told this senior executive that he wanted Gray fired and that a Chinese woman, Lucy Guo, a non-U.S. citizen, would handle, the hotel operations.

Fitzgerald said this senior executive explained to the IPI owner that the company could not legally fire a U.S. citizen and give the same responsibilities to a non-U.S. citizen. The IPI owner allegedly ignored the advice and insisted that Brown be terminated, which eventually happened on Jan. 24, 2019.

The termination, Fitzgerald said, was clearly in retaliation.

As for the discrimination claim, Fitzgerald said that Gray, an African American U.S. citizen, was denied substantial compensation and benefits.

In late 2017, Gray allegedly complained to IPI that the company was violating immigration law and CNMI public policy by failing to hire qualified U.S. and local applicants.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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