Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman’s Housekeeper Files Suit

Image: megwhitman2010/Flickr

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman used to have a clean public image. Until she got into politics, that is. The Republican California gubernatorial candidate is being sued by her former housekeeper.

Said housekeeper hired none other than celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who most recently represented the marketing contractor who got Mark Hurd kicked out of HP. Reuters has more:

A former housekeeper to California Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman surfaced on Wednesday to say that the former eBay executive knowingly employed her illegally and treated her poorly.

The Whitman campaign moved quickly to counter the allegations by Nicky Diaz, saying the housekeeper from Mexico lied about her immigration status when she was hired in 2000, providing a Social Security card and other documents that appeared to show she could legally work in the United States.

At a news conference at her Los Angeles office, Allred said that Whitman never asked Diaz if she was in the country legally when Diaz was hired in 2000 and failed to pay her for all of the hours she was hired to work.

Allred also said that Whitman disregarded letters from the Social Security Administration notifying her that there were discrepancies with the Social Security number Diaz provided. A tearful Diaz said she came to Whitman in June 2009 for help getting legal status, but that Whitman angrily fired her instead.

Allred is a shark–and also a friend of Whitman’s Democratic rival Jerry Brown, according to Reuters. Whitman, meanwhile, provided copies of a US Immigration employment eligibility verification form, a Social Security card, and a California driver’s license for Diaz.

This is hard for Whitman’s tough-on-immigration platform. As a former Californian, I think Whitman was playing by the same don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy that many people in the state use. As long as her maid was doing a good job and charging a reasonable rate, Whitman had no reason to inquire into her legal status. Whitman did the legal thing by firing Diaz when she found out that Diaz was in fact illegal.

But then she didn’t report anything to the authorities. That would have been in line with her current platform. Whoops.

Incidentally, this isn’t Whitman’s first incursion with the law. The New York Times reports that she settled with another employee after an altercation:

In June 2007, an eBay employee claimed that Ms. Whitman became angry and forcefully pushed her in an executive conference room at eBay’s headquarters, according to multiple former eBay employees with knowledge of the incident. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter was delicate and was deemed to be strictly confidential.

The employee, Young Mi Kim, was preparing Ms. Whitman for a news media interview that day. Ms. Kim, who was not injured in the incident, hired a lawyer and threatened a lawsuit, but the dispute was resolved under the supervision of a private mediator.

Two of the former employees said the company paid a six-figure financial settlement to Ms. Kim, which one of them characterized as “around $200,000.”

I still think the points against Whitman’s character are pretty weak. She lost her temper. She did a Californian don’t-ask-don’t-tell on her maid, until her maid shared some news that made her try to save face. It makes for good political drama, but that’s about it.

Written by Drea Knufken

Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.