Ana Ebanks worked as an attorney in her home country Honduras but she was forced to flee in order to save her life.
She immigrated to the United States in 2004 to make a fresh start and got a job at American University in Washington, D.C., where, despite having a law degree, she worked in the student dining hall for nearly 10 years.
Just this week, Ebanks received a full ride to the LLM program at the university’s law school.
However, instead of celebrating her scholarship, Ebanks is distressed because she lost her job — at the same institution where she’s attending school.
Aramark, which provides food services at American University, recently fired Ebanks for “missing 40 minutes of work” because she was taking classes at the campus.
D.C.-based activist and Huffington Post contributor Carlos Mark Vera first posted about Ebanks’ ordeal on his Facebook page on Sept. 2:
“Today I was suppose to announce the awesome news that Ana Ebanks, the Aramark food worker famously known for being an attorney in her home country of Honduras, just received a full ride to the LLM program at the American University Washington College of Law. Instead this post is about how Aramark fired her a couple of hours ago when she missed 40 minutes of work because she was in class. This is a woman who fled her country so she wouldn't get killed.”
Vera went on to explain how Ebanks “endured verbal and emotional abuse from her supervisors at work for years” but she didn’t quit. She even took English classes to communicate better at work.
In 2010, The Washington Post covered Ebank’s inspirational story. In the blog, the former public defender told the newspaper about her difficult transition “from lawyer to cook.”
"You know, when you come to this country, it's impossible," she told the Post. "You can't work in your career. It's frustrating. I'm frustrated."
With the assistance of an AU student program called Community Learners Advancing in Spanish and English, or CLASE, she began learning English.
However, despite all her trials and tribulations, and much-deserved full scholarship, Ebanks was terminated by Aramark simply because she has an opportunity to study further.
And the powers that be, according to another Facebook post by Vera, didn’t think twice before making the decision.
Ebanks’ termination is not likely to affect her eligibility for the scholarship, Vera replied in a Facebook thread. But he is calling for her reinstatement.
"(She is) an employee who's been there for 10 years, who is loved for by all students for her warmth and customer service skills,” he wrote. “It’s time that we come together and demand that they reinstate her.”
Vera is encouraging supporter to tweet @aramark and use the hashtag #justice4Ana — and a lot of people have expressed their solidarity with Ebanks.
A #Justice4Ana rally is in the works for Sept. 6, planned by Justice for AU Workers Coalition and AU Student Worker Alliance.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Mike Blake