Gina De Marco, a former Los Angeles employee for NBCUniversal, claims she experienced a hostile work environment including sexual harassment from a direct supervisor. She further alleges that the media conglomerate failed to fully investigate the alleged sexual harassment and that it constituted a hostile work environment.
In an attempt to resolve the situation, De Marco filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that NBCUniversal failed to respond appropriately to her complaints of inappropriate, gender-based, sexual comments that she faced on a regular basis at work. She also alleges that she was forced to endure retaliation after reporting the harassment.
De Marco filed the lawsuit in California state court in September and NBCUniversal Media is fighting the suit. Last month the case was removed to federal court. As is stated in the suit, De Marco worked for NBCUniversal as a senior digital fulfillment specialist between 2016 and August 2017. Due to “work restrictions” she worked from home. De Marco alleges that her direct supervisor, John Vitulli, began harassing her and creating a hostile work environment beginning in November 2016. Amongst other alleged inappropriate behavior, De Marco claims that Vitulli referred to his genitalia as a “lightsaber” and told De Marco about his own and other male employees’ “masturbation practices.”
Two other instances noted in the lawsuit of inappropriate behavior on the part of Vitulli included his response to De Marco’s question about an upcoming LBGTQ event with, “I don’t take part in those gay things” and responding to De Marco advising him that another female employee was out of the office due to a domestic abuse related hospital stay with, “She should have learned to keep her mouth shut…she should have limped into the office.”
After reporting the issues to NBCUniversal’s human resources department, De Marco alleges that no adequate investigation occurred. She was also not assigned a new supervisor. Later in the suit, De Marco states that she experienced mental and/or physical disabilities in June 2017 due to the continued harassment and workplace retaliation that limited both her personal and professional life. De Marco was eventually put on sick leave until she was let go. De Marco claims she was wrongfully terminated due to her complaints about Vitulli, her complaints about he post-complaint harassment/retaliation and her disabilities/need for accommodations and leave.
NBCUniversal claims the termination of De Marco stemmed from the move of her position from an at-home position to an in-office position, but De Marco claims she was not provided with an opportunity to accept an in-office position if one was available. In court the media giant shows the action as frivolous and are demanding their attorneys’ fees paid.
If you have concerns regarding wrongful termination or if you have experienced workplace retaliation, please touch base with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.