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A Message from Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic

Post from Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic - May 2018

Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month 2018

"East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." When Rudyard Kipling said that, he was already wrong as far as the United States was concerned. The immigration of the first Japanese to the United States occurred on May 7, 1843, and the Transcontinental Railroad, which was built in large part by immigrants from China, was completed on May 10, 1869. Since then, people from all over Asia and the Pacific have not only come to the United States in ever-greater numbers, they have become an integral part of American society, contributing to our nation in countless ways.

In 21st century America, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders - "AAPI" - continue to make invaluable contributions to our society. Because of those two historic events in May, this month has been designated as AAPI Heritage Month. The EEOC has long observed this event to celebrate the beauty of the AAPI component of the American mosaic, and to reinforce our commitment to protecting this worthy community against injustice.

Sadly, where there's diversity, there's liable to be discrimination. Over the years, the EEOC has had to fight for AAPI workplace rights as with any other ethnic group. Moreover, because of the great diversity within the AAPI community, discrimination against them has also been diversified - such as employers who favor this or that national origin over Asian-Americans, or who disadvantage one AAPI group and prefer another.  Whoever the beneficiary or victim is, or however complicated the circumstances, of course, it's all wrong, all illegal, and all our task to combat.

Some of the EEOC's recent successful efforts on behalf of AAPI people include:

  • Last November, Winner Ford of Cherry Hill, N.J., agreed to pay $150,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to settle an EEOC national origin discrimination suit. The agency charged that since 2010, Winner Ford paid its Chinese emergency and accessory installation (EAI) technicians a lower starting wage and hourly wage than non-Chinese techs in the same job.
  • In January, Aloha Auto Group of Hawaii settled an EEOC suit charging that it had fired an employee for encouraging a group of AAPI employees at the company's Harley-Davidson dealership on Kauai to complain about a racially discriminatory comment.
  • In March, I signed a renewal of the EEOC's memorandum of understanding with the Embassy of the Philippines to work together to combat discrimination against the Filipino community in this country.

As we celebrate the myriad contributions of AAPI people to our nation, we might hark back to the Golden Spike which united our country, thanks in large measure to the Chinese immigrants who built that railroad. AAPI people, have indeed been a Golden Spike for America, building and tying our country together. As we honor them, we honor the best in everyone.