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Microskills Court Case
For any of you who may be involved in any legal action, the respondent (defendant) may insist on using an arbitrator. In the case against Microskills, we had to, because my employment contract said that. I would urge you to strongly resist this option for the following reasons:
- you cannot appeal the decision. So if a mistake of law is made then unlike a normal case, you are out of luck
- limited discovery is allowed. The evidence you are allowed to obtain from the other side is restricted to a certain number of requests
- there is only one person making the decision, not a jury, so you leave yourselves open to the vagaries of their individual foibles
I remember arriving at the arbitration hearing on the second day and giving the arbitrator, Professor Jan Stiglitz, a cheerful, "Good morning, professor". He just looked at me and said nothing in reply. Perhaps at that stage he had already decided that I was lying through my teeth and didn't deserve to win. And that his absolute right as an individual. Of course, some months later, Microskills closed, throwing many students and staff out on the street, and in serious trouble with various authorities. Ironically, Jan Stiglitz is associated with the Innocence Project, a very worthy cause which should be supported. In this case however, he got it wrong.
With a jury perhaps, some members of it may have thought differently.
Professor Stiglitz was quite amicable the rest of the time. Maybe he is just not a morning guy.
Mediation I would recommend, though this never took place in this particular case. This is not binding.
An abusive phone call to Eduardo Malabanan
Microskills defense of their case said they were justified in firing me as I had been rude to a potential student, Eduardo Malabanan, in a phone call on the day that I was terminated. This fellow had emailed me several times asking for information about the school but had always declined to get on the phone, strangely because he was "working all day, on the phones".
Bart Richmond (not his real name) said under oath that he had received a phone complaint from this man who said that I had been rude to him in a phone call on the day of my firing. (I only found out he was a man during the discovery process as in all the emails I got from him, he either was anonymous and identified as "Jun". To me, Jun is close to June, which is a female name. But I have since found out that it is a common Phillipino nick name. It is interesting that Alex Emralino, my immediate supervisor was also of Phillipino descent). Eduardo C Jr & Candace Malabanan apparently lived at at 8020 Winter Gardens Blvd A, 92021 for a time in 2004 according to real estate records, so it looks like he is a real person.
Anyway, as you may gather, I never spoke to Mr Malabanan, and said so under oath. Maybe he called Bart, maybe he didn't, but both Bart and I agree that Bart never gave me the opportunity to defend myself because he never told me why he was firing me. If he had simply said you spoke to this customer and were rude to him, I would have said "no, that didn't happen", and then we could have looked at the phone records to see if any such call took place.
One of the founding principles of our American system is that you have the right to know what the charges are if you are accused of a crime. That Bill of Rights protection of course does not extend to employment relationships of course, but one would think that an enthusiast of individual liberties like Mr Richmond (not his real name) would at least observe the spirit of the 6th Amendment.
My contention of course would be that the fact I was raising the uncomfortable issues of how Microskills was doing business was the reason I got fired. And even if that reason had been only partially responsible for my termination, even if I had spoken to Malabanan, then Microskills would have been the loser in this case.
Their defense also included that I had a vendetta against Microskills, as exemplified by this web site. Well, it is a chicken and egg argument. If they hadn't fired me without any apparent justifiable, legal reason, maybe there would be no web site and no court case.
I recently spoke to someone who said that they have close knowledge of Eduardo Malabanan: this person alleged that he is a bully, a liar, very devious, has a temper problem, is a major asshole, a miserable person, a major weirdo and has trouble with bill collectors. The person alleged, and this is to Eduardo's credit, that his wife left Eduardo in the 80s with two little girls who he had to raise himsel, so maybe he has reason to hate the world. This person confirmed some other details which seems to fit in with with this being the right Eduardo Malabanan.
Here is a transcript of the original message that the person who called me left, with any identifying information redacted:
"Hey Paul, My name is ******* and I'm calling from California. If I've read the the website that you put up regarding your problems with Microskills and I know that Eduardo Malabanan guy, and I just wanted to tell you that he seems to me that you were, you were one of his one of his victims. If you will. ******** And he's he's a real asshole. And I *******, so I'm not too keen on on giving you my last name and everything but because I still ****** son of a bitch, but believe me, that Eduardo Malabanan guy. He himself is in trouble ******* rude and just out right bully. *********. ********* So I just thought I'd give you a little bit of satisfaction because I don't like the guy myself, anyway. I hope. I hope your life is much better. And. If you want to touch base with me. My number is ********. And the reason I'm calling is because I had to have happened.... I've been bullied by this Eduardo Malabanan guy. He's a real real piece of work like they say. But it seems to me like he's he's got some coming. Because of what he put you through. So. Take Care. And if you wanna call me. Please do so. Bye bye."
These are allegations. If Eduardo Malabanan wants to refute them or put his side of the whole Microskills affair, then these pages are open to him.
The final outcome was that the arbitrator, Professor Jan Stiglitz, decided that our main cause of action, that I had been fired for refusing to break the law, which is known as a Tameny claim, was not correct. He did find that Microskills owed me the commission on the students that I enrolled, and had broken the law as far as paying my wages on time, but that the contract that I was employed under was not unconscionable.
However, with Microskills' liquidation, will I ever get the commission? As an employee I may come ahead of other unsecured creditors but who knows how much is left in the pie.
Bart and I have one thing in common, and that is our realization that we don't like being employed by other people. He is now working with his wife on some schemes involving getting rich, probably some sort of multi level marketing thing, I assume. However, as of early 2012 he is also working as a
for mortgage company called Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC.
I am now working in Search Engine Optimization and web publishing. If anyone reading this is interested in a particular topic, hobby or interest that they believe could be leveraged into traffic magnet of a web site, then please contact me.
How it works is that, you get traffic to the site, and then make money from the advertising there. So, if you have a book you have written or are an expert in a particular field then we can take that content and turn it into a information web site that ranks high in the search engines and gets lots of web traffic. You can see some of my sites here.
And it is not a get rich quick scheme. Maybe more a get rich slow scheme. But it certainly builds up a passive income. And you don't have to pay me a penny.
If you need a witness in any of your cases against Microskills, then I am available and would seek no compensation other than travel expenses. The reason I set up this site and the reason I sued the company was to ensure that justice was done, and that students were not misled, and that companies cannot fire their employees for a refusal to violate public policy or the law.
If anyone believes that they were induced to enroll with Microskills, particularly due to a rosy picture being painted of their future after completing the course because of unreliable labor statistics I can certainly say that during my time there, those statistics were being used.
You may also want to consider not suing at all. Microskills has shown a reluctance to admit any guilt or settle for a reasonable amount in the past. If you are not the type to enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing and the drawn out judicial process, maybe put it behind you and get on with your life, especially if it is a small amount.
I was interested to see that one of the students that I enrolled was suing Microskills! Maybe he needs me.