Filipinos file class action lawsuit vs Alaska

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Jul 08 2011 12:52 PM | Updated as of Jul 08 2011 08:52 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Filipino community leaders and members of the Filipino-American Assisted Living Home Providers Association of Alaska (FAALHPAA) took to the streets of Anchorage, Alaska last week and filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Alaska.

They said the Alaskan state government discriminates against Filipinos, who dominate the carehome industry here.

The lawsuit charges the state of Alaska and the Department of Health and Social Services of engaging in "abusive, negligent and reckless practices...shutting down homes without due process."

Patricia Perez, one of the 20 plaintiffs said: "The abuse and allegations toward us need to stop."

Filipinos own most of the 600 carehomes in Alaska.  Perez believes Filipinos are targeted because the state of Alaska cannot accept that minorities dominate the industry.

They said Alaskan government agencies have shut down about 25 carehomes so far, of which 95% are Filipino-owned.

"The agency's licensing and monitoring activities are strangling the assisting living homes with their unduly burdensome financial audit regulations," said John Pharr, counsel for the Filipino carehome owners.

The state of Alaska and the Department of Health and Social Services have not made a comment on the class action lawsuit yet.

But the agency maintains that it has no way of knowing the race of a carehome's owner and they just respond to complaints.  

The agency added that it has an appeals process, so providers can formally raise any concerns they may have about any enforcement actions.

FAALHPAA CEO Mike Ocampo said they want the abusive practices imposed on them to change. "We want them to know that Filipinos will not take things sitting down," he said.