Capitol Alert

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From Susan Ferriss in San Jose:

Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has agreed to pay her former housekeeper $5,500 to settle a complaint that she was underpaid while working for the couple.

The settlement includes a provision that Whitman and her husband, Griffith Harsh, admit no wrongdoing in the case.

Whitman spokesman Tucker Bounds told reporters after the conference that the complaint was "a political charade."

The housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, said she was satisfied with the agreement and that she spoke out because she wanted other housekeepers to be recognized for the hard work they do.

Her attorney, Gloria Allred said before the hearing that they had "Irrefutable" evidence that Whitman owed her former Mexican housekeeper between $8,000 and $10,000 in wages and mileage.

The amount - which includes what the housekeeper spent on driving - was more than the approximately $6,000 wage claim that was originally filed against Whitman on Sept. 29.

Harsh, an attorney for the couple and Bounds attended a conference this morning with Allred in downtown San Jose at the Department of Industrial Relations.

Allred said she would show documentation that Diaz was owed money: "It will be irrefutable - just like the last document I had."

She was referring to a Social Security Administration letter that arrived at the Whitman household in 2003 explaining that Diaz Santillan's name and number did not match.
Allred spoke of the letter at a first press conference to disclose Diaz Santillan's employment with Whitman. At first Whitman denied getting the letter - suggesting that Diaz might have intercepted it - until Allred produced it and showed it had Harsh's writing on it.

"When Nicky was hired by Ms. Whitman," Allred said, reading a statement, "Ms.
Whitman told her that she would earn $23.00 per hour and that she would be required to work 15 hours a week. However, after Nicky was hired additional duties were added to Nicky's responsibilities, such as driving to the grocery store, cleaners, shoe repair, school, library, children's friends' houses - to take and drop off children - and driving to the airport to drop off Dr. Harsh."

"Nicky told Ms. Whitman that with the additional duties she was working more than the 15 hours a week in order to do the job, but she alleges that she was told that she would only be paid for 15 hours a week," Allred said.

She said undocumented workers are, by law, required to be paid for their work and have recourse.

"We say to Meg Whitman that is is never too late to do the right thing," Allred said. "You spent $143 million of your own money on your campaign. Hopefully, you have enough money left to pay your housekeeper the wages that you owe her."



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