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MANILA, Philippines – Tired of being abused and discriminated against by her former employer's girlfriend, ex-beauty queen and actress Dindi Gallardo has filed a lawsuit in New York against Frank Miller, creator of The Dark Knight, 300 and other comic book series.
In the complaint, filed on October 8 at the Manhattan Supreme Court and sent to Rappler by Gallardo's lawyer, Gallardo accuses Miller's girlfriend, Kimberly Cox, of racial discrimination, inflicting emotional distress and creating a hostile work environment that was tolerated by Miller.
The suit includes Miller, Cox and Miller's company.
Gallardo is demanding unspecified punitive damages even if Cox had offered to settle to avoid the lawsuit.
Gallardo's lawyer, Matthew Blit, refused to make further comments on the case due to the pending litigation but confirmed she has received many emails and calls expressing support for her from the US as well as the Philippines.
"She truly appreciates it and thanks people for the kind words they have offered her during this difficult period of her life," Blit told Rappler in an email on Friday, October 12.
According to the complaint, the first hint of Cox's racism came in late 2008, when she referred to a Chinese-origin assistant hired before Gallardo as an "ugly Chink with a fake British accent."
Gallardo, 41, started out as general operations assistant but was later promoted to executive assistant of Miller himself.
On March 25, 2009, the plaintiff recalls that Cox complained about her scheduling of meetings for Miller and yelled: "I can't understand your funky accent. Speak fucking English."
Although born and raised in the Philippines, Gallardo is a naturalized American citizen and has lived in the US for 20 years and speaks fluent English.
That did not prevent Cox from complaining about her accent on 3 more separate occasions.
"Throughout her time assisting Mr. Miller and Ms. Cox, Mrs. Gallardo-Mills was subjected to Ms. Cox's condescending and derogatory actions and was made to feel inferior because of her Filipino background by Ms. Cox," the complaint said.
Hostile work environment
On top of the racist comments, Gallardo also suffered Cox's "destructive, threatening and outrageous behavior" that caused the Filipina to fear for her life while working for Frank Miller.
Cox's worst outburst occurred on July 27, 2010, when she threw a cordless telephone and chair at Gallardo, barely missing her, and later "smeared human feces on the kitchen countertop of the loft space" of Miller's office-apartment, which was Gallardo's work area.
About a year later, Gallardo arrived at the office and saw that her files containing 3 years of documents had been scattered across the floor.
It was still not enough for Cox, the much younger girlfriend of the famous comic book artist.
Between August and September 2011, the boss's girlfriend again threw a phone at Gallardo and started stabbing boxes of files with a knife in her presence.
She then left "her underwear soiled with feces and her used menstrual pad an left it near Mrs. Gallardo-Mill's work area" alongside a a hat stabbed through its top with a knife.
Keeping them apart
In March 2012, Cox again yelled at Gallardo: "I can't fucking understand you. Speak English."
The outburst prompted the Filipina to verbally complain to Miller, who worked out an arrangement by which Gallardo would work from home most of the time and she would only come to the office when Cox was not there.
However, the arrangement was not enforced and the harassment continued.
Cox retaliated to the complaint calling her an "ugly Asian" and Gallardo tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a new employment contract that addressed her situation.
In September 2012, Gallardo found out she was being edged out of Miller's company after calls and emails were not answered, documents were not sent to her as usual, she was denied use of the corporate credit card and finally the locks to the office were changed before the employment contract was effectively terminated.
Symptoms of anxiety
Gallardo alleged in her suit that her employment was terminated because of race and that Cox's abuses led to her suffering "mental anguish, severe and lasting embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional distress."
She currently experiences symptoms of anxiety, migraine headaches, chest pain, acid reflux and sleeplessness, flare-ups of rheumatoid arthritis.
Melinda Joanna "Dindi" Gallardo, married since September 2011 to American businessman Eric Scott Mills, is a former actress and model who attained public recognition when she won the Ms. Binibining Pilipinas Universe beauty contest in 1993.
She later migrated to the US and has lived in New York for over 10 years.
Frank Miller an American writer, artist, and film director best known for his dark, film noir-style comic book stories and graphic novels Ronin, Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City and 300. - Rappler.com
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