IPI denies discriminatory allegations of ex-pit manager


Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC has denied all allegation filed by a former pit manager at the IPI casino who claims that the casino operator discriminated against him.

According to the response filed by IPI through its lawyer, James Sirok, the casino investor denies the allegations made by Stephen Abonita, claiming that IPI’s employment decisions related to the plaintiff were governed by legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons.

“Plaintiff failed to use ordinary care and diligence in the performance of his duties and failed to comply substantially with the reasonable directions of IPI and internal personnel rules and regulations covering the actions, conduct, duties, and behavior of IPI’s employees,” the response stated.

“Plaintiff cannot establish a causal connection between the exercise of his personal rights to take vacation and leave, for the payment for gas for his car, because of the failure of being promoted, to his resignation from employment with IPI, or to certain claimed wages, (including overtime), and any adverse employment action or discriminatory action alleged to have been taken by IPI. IPI listened to plaintiff’s requests and accommodated plaintiff on several occasions when it was requested to do so, such that any of IPI’s failure to accommodate all of plaintiff’s requests was governed by legitimate nondiscriminatory or non-retaliatory reasons,” Sirok added.

Also, IPI claims that Abonita failed to state a claim, or claims, upon which relief can be granted.

IPI also claims there is no supplemental jurisdiction for the U.S. District Court for the NMI to consider plaintiff’s contract claims, which are separate from and nonconnected to his discrimination claims.

In addition, IPI claims that Abonita’s claims are barred by virtue of his failure to mitigate damages and are barred by the statute of limitations.

Bonita, a Philippine national previously employed by IPI as a casino pit supervisor, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, alleging that IPI paid him significantly less than his Caucasian and Chinese fellow pit managers because he is a Filipino. A pit manager typically supervises the operation of the casino floor.

Abonita, through his attorney, Bruce Berline, also claims that IPI required him to work overtime but failed to compensate him for it and retaliated against him for joining protests against the company alongside his fellow Filipinos.

The plaintiff is demanding a jury trial and wants the court to order IPI to pay him back pay, front pay, emotional distress pay, punitive damages, and other relief the court may deem necessary.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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