Zajradhara sues again

Zaji O. Zajradhara, a man who complained of being discriminated against in prior lawsuits, is suing again, this time against the company that owns the Eucon International University.

Zajradhara, through counsel Daniel T. Guidotti, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against CWM International Inc., which owns Eucon International University, accusing it of retaliation and breach of contract.

Zajradhara is demanding back pay, compensation, damages, court costs, and attorney’s fees.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the NMI.

As of press time, Saipan Tribune was still trying to obtain comments from CWM International.

According to Guidotti in the complaint, Zajradhara applied for an office position at CWM in January 2018. He learned of the vacancy from CWM’s online posting at the CNMI Labor website.

Guidotti said that Zajradhara and several non-U.S. citizens were interviewed for the position.

Guidotti said that CWM eventually selected one of its current employees, a non-U.S. citizen CW-1 worker, to fill the position.

After finding out about this, Zajradhara filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He asserted that CWM did not hire him based on his race and national origin.

Zajradhara is of Afro-Latino descent.

In February 2018, Zajradhara initiated a case with CNMI Labor in which he asserted that the company had violated the U.S. citizen employment preference by rejecting his application.

Guidotti said that, on March 14, 2018, during a mediation hearing in the Labor case, Zajradhara and CWM settled both the Labor case and his pending EEOC charge.

In the settlement, the lawyer said, CWM hired Zajradhara as an office employee, starting Oct. 1, 2018.

He accepted the office employee position in full settlement of the Labor case. He promised to recommend dismissal of the EEOC charge of discrimination.

EEOC then granted Zajradhara’s recommendation to dismiss his charge.

Guidotti said that during the settlement discussions, the CWM representative did not disclose to Zajradhara that CWM intended to require him to adhere to certain religious principles as a condition of his job.

On Oct. 3, 2018, Zajradhara went to CWM’s Gualo Rai business office to begin work.

A CWM staff allegedly presented Zajradhara with several documents, including a faculty contract and a statement of faith.

Guidotti said Zajradhara signed some of the documents, but noted that he had his own ancestral religious ideology.

Two days later, on Oct. 5, an Asian woman allegedly berated him in front of other employees. It began when the woman allegedly approached Zajradhara and demanded that he tell her his name.

Guidotti said the woman accused Zajradhara of removing office files, ordered him to remove a bandanna he was wearing, accused him of doing no work the previous day and that he could not type fast enough.

The lawyer said the woman also accused him of wasting her students’ money and that she believed that he was working at CWM in order to “make trouble.”

At the end of the day, Guidotti said the CWM representative terminated Zajradhara, allegedly because his dress was not in accordance with CWM’s religious ideology.

On Oct. 12, 2018, CWM delivered the termination letter to Zajradhara.

Guidotti said CWM intentionally discriminated against Zajradhara because he is of Afro-Latino descent and because he is dark skinned.
Previously, Zajradhara filed separate lawsuits against the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. before the U.S. District Court for the NMI and the Superior Court over his termination from employment with CUC in October 2014.

In those lawsuits, he alleged that, while employed at CUC, he was subjected to a hostile workplace. CUC denied the allegations.

He alleged that the termination was on the pretext that he had been caught in possession of illegal drugs.

A copy of CUC Personnel Committee’s order filed in court showed that Zajradhara had been employed by CUC since May of 2013 and that, in the course of the next 13 months, he was reprimanded by CUC on several occasions for various instances of misconduct.

Among these were smoking inside the CUC power plant compound, in violation of CUC policy; using a CUC printer to print a 70-page marijuana catalog; and testing positive for an illegal substance.

In August 2018, CUC settled the two lawsuits. The terms of the settlement were kept confidential.

In June 2017, Zajradhara filed a complaint before CNMI Labor against an employer who operated a small shop in Garapan called Mini Gift Shop and a small tour business.

He alleged that the employer, Li Feng (USA) Corp., violated CNMI job preference laws by rejecting his application for a job.

Robert T. Torres and Oliver Manglona served as counsel for Li Feng (USA) Corp.

In July 2018, Labor administrative hearing officer Jerry Cody issued a judgment in favor of Li Feng and against Zajradhara.
Cody ruled that, by failing to participate in the interview, Zajradhara caused his own claim to fail.
Cody said the employer has now replaced its CW-1 status salesperson with a lawful permanent resident, and thus, no violation of the CNMI’s job preference statute has occurred.

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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