I don’t know if Meg Whitman was essentially the victim of blackmail by an opportunistic and possibly disgruntled former housekeeper who was not in the country legally and a notorious media savvy lawyer, but I do think she, Whitman, could have handled things better — more nicely if you will.
And I think that illegal immigration or immigration law is a mess.
First, the latter point: I just read an article from the San Francisco Chronicle about the pitfalls of hiring and firing illegal immigrants and it has made my head swim (and thanks to Gene Burns of KGO radio, San Francisco for pointing it out on his show). If accurate, it makes no sense — and it makes me think of that old saying (which I always get a little wrong) “If that is the law, then the law is an ass”.
If the story is true, it appears that federal law requires that you immediately fire anyone who is an illegal alien once you know that to be the case but on the other hand you could be hit with a discrimination suit or charge if you were to fire someone based on such things as a letter from Social Security questioning a worker’s documentation or if you were to even ask the worker about his or her status. Now if true, that is absurd!
You can read the story yourself at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/09/30/MN931FME32.DTL
ADD 1: And her is another good backgrounder: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/10/02/how-meg-whitman-was-ambushed-by-her-maid/
And now to the first point: Whitman, who by the way I mention to non-California readers is the Republican candidate for governor of California running against Democrat Jerry Brown, said she fired her housekeeper after the housekeeper announced she was illegal and asked for help in getting a green card. Whitman has also said that she was sorry it had to end that way being as the woman had been like part of the family, having done nanny duties and such. The former housekeeper has complained that she was treated badly and I think she has said she has been cheated out of some money.
It seems to me that one could come to the conclusion that there is a little extortion going on here or at least an attempt what with a high-priced lawyer helping to put the candidate in a bad light and hoping for a big payoff. But at the same time, it seems to me Whitman could have found an amiable solution, either by, indeed, helping her former beloved member of the family get a green card or by helping her financially in any way she could (Whitman has the money).
Stiff penalties for hiring illegals is part of Whitman’s campaign platform (do as I say, not as I do).
The evidence so far in this affair seems to indicate that Whitman knew or should have suspected that the woman was an illegal immigrant if for no other reason than the broken English the woman uses (we‘ve heard her on radio).
Also we all know that it is the custom for folks with money (and maybe even folks of more modest means) to hire illegal immigrants to do relatively low-paid work — this is just a fact of life. But railing against illegals, especially in a time of high unemployment is great politics.
Oh, and there is that letter from Social Security questioning her housekeeper’s immigration status on which someone (reportedly Whitman’s husband) wrote a note to have the situation checked out. Whitman has claimed she never saw the letter.
I’m thinking that Whitman broke no laws, except for a moral law (or obligation) to treat an employee who was part of the family, so to speak, with a little more dignity and compassion.
Also, it has been reported that the woman received , I think, something like $23 per hour for 15 hours per week. Some would say that is not a bad deal. I suspect that she probably was in reality required to work longer and was not in a position to complain because of her illegal status. That is another reason some unscrupulous employers love to hire illegals.
My own position on illegal immigration is that it undercuts U.S. citizens trying to find work and make a living. I do not put much stock into the position that illegals primarily do work U.S. citizens will not do. I have lived long enough, done a little of the menial work myself, and know enough history to know that U.S. citizens, be they white or black or brown or yellow of skin, will do most any work, if that is the only thing available (and you can‘t get some kind of government check instead). In these modern times, though, we all may be a little more picky about working conditions and pay, so be it.