Victoria Donda, the head of the government’s anti-discrimination agency INADI, is in the midst of a summer storm over allegations emerged in the press claiming that she of not only irregularly employed a maid for several years but also sought to escape the legal consequences by offering the Bolivian woman a social plan or a state job.
Arminda Banda Oxa, 62, was planning an early retirement to attend to a sick brother but the paperwork was complicated by Donda having only paid four years of employer contributions over the last 14 years, according to the Bolivian citizen’s attorney, labour lawyer Osvaldo Barsanti.
In order to dodge a lawsuit in the labour courts, Donda suggested registering her formal employee in a social plan to give her a legal platform for seeking a pension, Barsanti alleged, producing a tape to bolster his accusations. The allegations have been lodged in both labour and criminal courts, local outlets reported Tuesday.
“I’m telling you we can register you in a plan or something. I need you to tell me that, that if you resign [your post], it’s in order to register you in a plan,” Donda reportedly says on the tape. “Afterwards, we can always pay what’s needed for you to collect your pension. But I also need to sort this out but I also understand that you need the money."
“We can also go looking at an INADI [job] contract” for the maid or her sister, Donda also says in the recording.
The INADI chief’s defence was to comment: "They’re taking advantage of her," insisting that her only intention was to ease her former employee’s retirement plans. According to Donda, Barsanti is chasing a juicy severance lawsuit while others were interested in exploiting this case politically.
The government official also denies the lawyer’s claim that she did not pay Banda Oxa during Argentina’s lengthy quarantine period, further stating that the maid has been registered since mid-2016, which is when she first started working for her and not beforehand. She also said had been paid through to last month, producing AFIP pay slips to prove it.
The former deputy did admit having offered to register her in a social plan or to contract her in INADI’s cleaning staff in a statement, adding: "I understand the worries this situation has generated in many people who have written to me via the social networks requesting information. Informal employment is a structural problem in our country and it’s completely valid to ask our leaders for explanations if rumours or leaks like today’s appear."
Donda insisted, however, that "everything is in order" and she could prove it in court if necessary. She concluded with a warning against "constructing fake news from this question to harm me or the government of which I form part."
Opposition lawmakers slammed the official, with PRO national deputy Waldo Wolff accusing Donda of "corruption" and describing the reports as “pure feudalism.” The Juntos por el Cambio politician has presented a draft resolution before Congress, calling on Donda to “clarify the situation” to lawmakers.
Government sources expressed concern over the “serious charges” but according to most outlets, there was no immediate indication of any pressure on Donda to submit her resignation.