UNITE-HERE Boss Ada Briceno Discriminated Against Union Employees On Race, Age

Ada Briceno, the head of UNITE-HERE Local 11 and chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County presents herself as a champion of the disadvantaged and opponent of discrimination, but engaged in racial and age discrimination against long-time UNITE-HERE staff, beginning with taking over the leadership Local 681 in 2001 – according a successful 2003 lawsuit against the union.

Local 681 ultimately merged with another chapter to form UNITE-HERE Local 11.

The lawsuit, filed by four Local 681 employees, was first reported in August 2019 on the watchdog site EyesOn11.com, and then reported today on by the conservative Washington Free Beacon.

Briceno is currently running for election as one of California’s representatives on the Democratic National Committee.

As reported in the Free Beacon:

According to the 2003 lawsuit, Briceño referred to non-Hispanic employees as “gringos,” disparaged employees’ work-related medical conditions, and terminated workers based on age, telling a union vice president “I’m going to fire these f—ing old ladies, and we can get someone else for less money.”

Briceño’s union went on to pay nearly $1 million in damages and legal fees stemming from the lawsuit, a ruling the organization unsuccessfully appealed. She did not return requests for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Briceño routinely subjected non-Hispanics to differential treatment. In addition to calling employees “gringos,” Briceño failed to discipline Hispanic staff members who were late to work despite requiring all employees to sign a document ensuring their punctuality. Briceño also held union meetings that were conducted only in Spanish with no translation for non-Spanish speakers, calling those who complained “contra.”

In addition, Briceño discriminated against staff members based on age and disparaged employees over their medical conditions. After one worker took time off for work-related medical conditions and injuries, Briceño “made her feel she was wrong and not entitled to do so,” causing the employee to cancel doctor’s appointments in an attempt to make up for missed time. Briceño went on to terminate multiple employees after stating she was going to “fire these f—ing old ladies” and “get someone else for less money.” She described the fired workers as “old and slow and time to go.”

Click here to read the lawsuit. It’s pretty shocking.

Even after losing the lawsuit, Briceno and the union sought to have $239,122 in damages for one of the plaintiffs dismissed because the plaintiff “publicly criticized the union’s leadership shortly after her employment ended.”  After being terminated, plaintiff Suzann Milkey wrote a letter to Briceno that was critical of her leadership. The stte court of appeal wrote:

“None of the cases cited by the union supports limiting Milkeys available remedies against the union in spite of her postdischarge letter to Torres.[8] The union does not challenge in this appeal the jurys findings that the union fired Milkey and that the decision to fire Milkey was unlawfully motivated by her ethnicity, national origin, age or medical condition. Milkey testified that she was hurt by the unions termination of her employment, and that she wrote and distributed the letter to Torres in reaction to that termination. There is no evidence Milkey would have written that letter, or engaged in any other act that could be construed as disloyal to the unions leadership, had she remained employed by the union.”

Note that the appellate court points out that Briceno’s union doesn’t challenge the jury verdict that Briceno’s termination of Milkey was motivated by the latter’s “ethnicity, national origin, age or medical condition.”

So much for inclusivity and other progressive values.

Will Democrats walk their progressive talk and call on Briceno to step down for so flagrantly violating her charge as a union leader and progressive activist? Or will they look the other way and sweep this under the rug?

2 comments

  1. Let’s see if she admits to racism at the DPOC meeting tonight. If she doesn’t, then screw her. She’s a racist.

  2. David Michael Klawe

    Ms. Briceno was one of 16 people arrested Tuesday Night at the LAX protest that severely messed up traffic in the area.

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