IPI denies engaging in unlawful employment

Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC has denied the allegation of a former VIP services host at its Imperial Pacific Resort and Casino that it has engaged in any unlawful employment practices.

In IPI’s answer to former VIP services host Shirlene Loh’s amended lawsuit, IPI counsel Kelley M. Butcher said that the company acted in good faith and had reasonable grounds for believing its actions were in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Loh, a citizen of Singapore, is suing IPI for alleged FLSA violation: unpaid minimum wage and unpaid overtime compensation.

Loh asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to hold IPI liable to pay her the minimum wage owed and her share of tips designated for VIP hosts.

She has accused IPI of siphoning off the tips.

She also demanded payment for liquidated and punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and court costs.

Loh was with IPI from Oct. 15, 2015, to August 2016.

In IPI’s answer, Butcher said that IPI has not engaged in intentional unlawful employment practices in Loh’s case, and that IPI cannot be made liable for punitive/liquidated damages.

She also insists that Loh was properly paid for all hours worked, including overtime pay.

She said Loh failed to exhaust her administrative remedies before filing the lawsuit.

Butcher asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety and hold Loh liable to pay IPI its court cost and attorney’s fees.

Last week, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona approved a consent judgment that requires Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd. and its subsidiary, IPI, to pay the U.S. Department of Labor a total of $3.36 million to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Labor Department.

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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