This brave black African woman took on the Clinton Foundation after they fired her for being pregnant
Folarin had so much to be happy about.
She was a few months into her new job in the Nigerian office of the Clinton Foundation. She loved the work and she was very good at it. Court files show she’d been through a rigorous competitive process to get the job and her work records described a model employee.
One of the reasons Folarin wanted to work with the Clintons was the conditions of employment they offered, including health care and maternity pay. US-style conditions in Nigeria, at least that’s what the brochures said.
Folarin knew the Clinton Foundation’s maternity conditions inside out. She had good reason to. She was newly married to Olarenwaju Maiye and they wanted to start a family.
So Folarin was glowing as she went into the office on Monday, 14 June 2010 with some great news for her Clinton colleagues.
At 10.09AM that morning Folarin sent an email from her work computer to her supervisor Hanjara Santali. The email was intended to formally record her joyous news - she was 12 weeks pregnant.
Folarin and Hanjara ran the office together and their emails show they were friends as well as colleagues. At least they were until then.
Over the next few hours Hanjara spoke with her boss, the Clintons country manager Dr Owens Wiwa.
The news for Folarin was not good.
At 2.23 that afternoon Hanjara replied, “I don’t want you to work too hard. Please take it easy and I will try my possible best that you keep your job. I will see how we can work things out”.
Hanjara was also pregnant so Folarin replied, “…..I am 12 weeks…was hoping you were far gone with yours so that at least when you go for maternity I can be here and then you’d be back by the time it’s my turn, but just heard you are 17 weeks”.
Within hours Folarin was given a letter terminating her employment.
She’d been sacked for getting pregnant.
Folarin pleaded with the Clintons Nigerian country manager Dr Wiwa.
He would later tell a Nigerian court that he didn’t find out Folarin was pregnant until after he’d signed the letter dismissing her. The court found he was not telling the truth and that quote “The Applicant (Folarin) was sacked because she was pregnant”.
Folarin knew her rights. She emailed the William J Clinton Foundation’s US-based head of Human Resources and pleaded with him. To no avail.
According to the Court files the CF HR chief replied “By saying he understood her frustration - however he ratified the Nigerian Country Manager’s decision to terminate her employment” which the court found was “on the grounds of pregnancy”.
The court also found that the US William J Clinton Foundation itself further ratified Dr Owens decision by issuing what the court described as a “pay-off cheque” from the US.
But Folarin was made of sterner stuff.
Nigeria’s court system is the product of British common law.
It’s supposed to operate on the basis of the rule of law.
When Folarin made her application to Nigeria’s National Industrial Court, with all its British traditions, her fortunes took a turn for the better.
On 11 November 2011 His Lordship the Honourable Justice BA Adejumo, President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria delivered a scathing judgement against 3 Clinton Foundation entities.
It’s important to explain who and what those entities are.
Firstly the court found that The Incorporated Trustees of Clinton Health Access Initiative, Nigeria headed by Dr Owens Wiwa had committed a “gross violation of (Folarin’s) constitutional rights”. The CHAI Nigeria had “severely wounded her, with their assault on her womanhood”. The court found that the Nigerian entity had acted illegally and had tried to cover-up its unlawful actions by giving false evidence to the court.
But the court reserved its most scathing criticism for the US-based CHAI Inc and the William J Clinton Foundation Inc.
The court held that the Clinton Foundation’s Nigerian entity was a fully-controlled agent of the Clinton Foundation itself. His Honour Judge Adejumo said,
“It is on the record that (Folarin) made several self-humiliating entreaties to the US-based respondents (CHAI) to reconsider the decision to sack her which the respondents flagrantly rebuffed. It is on the record that she appealed to the US head office in the United States (William J Clinton Foundation Inc), which instead of calling the Nigerian office to order, decided to ratify its illegal act. It is equally on the record that the respondents have not shown any remorse, they have continued to justify the action. Considering this high-handedness and gross violation of the constitutional rights of the applicant, it is my considered opinion that the applicant is entitled to the award of aggravated damages”.
The Nigerian court’s decision is now on the record at the International Labour Organisation’s legal precedent database
The full court’s judgement is here.
Mrs Folarin Oreka Maiya received a full 12 months salary to compensate her for the Clintons’ inhumanity.
The Clintons probably spent more than that on canapés at a Foundation cocktail party.