Settlement being explored in discrimination suit filed vs IPI


Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC and a former pit manager at the IPI Resort and Casino are looking into the possibility of a settlement in the ongoing discrimination lawsuit the ex-employee filed in the U.S. District Court for the NMI.

In a stipulation filed by both IPI and former pit manager Stephen Abonita regarding the pending discrimination suit the latter had filed, the parties stated that both sides are interested in exploring a settlement. In line with this, they have asked that upcoming proceedings be adjourned until after the settlement conference set for March 14.

“The parties are both interested in exploring whether this matter can be resolved and a settlement conference is scheduled for March 14. In order to fully explore settlement prior to incurring the time and cost of briefing and arguing IPI’s summary judgment motion, the parties desire to adjourn the briefing and hearing until after that settlement conference,” the agreement states.

District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona Manglona has since granted the parties’ stipulation.

According to Saipan Tribune archives, Abonita, a Philippine national previously employed by IPI as a casino pit supervisor, 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.

According to the lawsuit, the two causes of action in this case are discrimination and breach of contract.

Berline said that IPI discriminated against his client by paying him less than his fellow supervisors and breached his employee contract by requiring him to come into work 30 minutes earlier than his schedule and not compensating him for those hours.

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

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