Filipino allegedly discriminated at Steve Madden, sues company for $1.6 million dollars

NEW YORK – “It felt like a high school cafeteria. That’s what I felt when I was working, but instead of the teachers being able to help out the students, it felt like the teachers were in on the joke.” That’s how this 29-year-old Filipino says he felt while working as a file clerk at Steve Madden.

Now, George Abella is suing the billion dollar footwear company for at least $1.6 million dollars.

Earlier this month, Abella filed an employment discrimination action against Steve Madden to seek damages and costs for illegal firing and for allegedly being subjected to a hostile work environment.

“Ultimately, the adverse employment action – that is, the termination – arose out of his complaint to HR about being subjected to an on-going environment involving racist comments, comments based on people national origin, comments based on people’s sexuality, and a variety of derogatory and offensive statements,” said Walker Harman, legal counsel.

According to the complaint, a Steve Madden supervisor fostered a sexist, homophobic environment.

Abella alleges his supervisor and co-workers regularly joked about the shape of his eyes, calling him “chink,” “wetback,” “spic,” and suggested that as a Filipino, he ate dogs.

According to the complaint, the supervisor allegedly mocked Abella for not knowing Chinese.

“They knew I was Filipino,” said Abella. “At some point in time, they would give me documents that were written in Chinese, so I tell them every time, ‘I don’t speak Chinese, I don’t know how to read this.’ … Every time I do that, he goes up to me in front of everybody and denounce that, ‘why did we ever hire you, you don’t speak Chinese, why did we hire you?’”

Despite the alleged hostile work environment, Abella received a 50 cent per hour raise for his excellent work performance. In addition to alleged racial abuses, Abella alleges his co-workers regularly called him “homo,” although Abella says he is not.

But last June, after reporting to their HR that he has suffered harassment at work for five months, he was terminated in an alleged act of retaliation, according to the complaint.

“I want justice,” said Abella. “I felt that this is something that shouldn’t be happening.”

ABS-CBN News has reached out to Steve Madden’s offices and legal counsel but has not responded at this time.

An initial discovery planning conference is scheduled on Dec. 19 in Brooklyn, NY.

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  • Kuya
    29 November 2014 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Congratulations or doing he right thing!!! I wish more of our “kabbyans” who are victims of discrimination will come out and speak out…..