Years-Long Fight Between Billionaire Siebel and Former Salesman Receives Jury Verdict

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Tech billionaire Thomas Siebel’s legal battle with a former Massachusetts salesman nears an end with jury’s verdict after four years of litigation. The highly contentious and long legal battle resulted in a jury that found Siebel did not owe Gregg Carman, former salesman, additional pay.

The San Jose jury delivered their verdict against former salesman for C3 loT, Gregg Carman. Carman filed suit claiming that he was shortchanged on commissions. The company was able to convince a majority of the jury that Carman did not have a reasonable expectation of receiving additional commissions totaling several hundred thousand dollars. The claim was defeated under “quantum meruit,” a legal theory presented by Siebel’s legal counsel.

Counterclaims the company made against Carman alleging that he misrepresented the nature of deals with a couple utility companies he closed while on the job and actually owed Siebel’s company around $120,000 were also unanimously rejected by the jury. While the jury did agree that Carman was fired either for complaining about his pay or so the company could avoid paying him additional commissions, they did not agree that he had been wrongfully terminated according to California labor law.

Many companies would have quickly settled this type of claim outside of court or in mediation, but Siebel fought the case vigorously after refusing to pay the compromise amount of $360,000 suggested by Carman. In fact, Siebel has a record of aggressively litigating in his defense. His legal representation stated that it was about the principle for Siebel. He does not settle illegitimate claims for compensation.

Under fiscal year 2014, Carman stood to be provided over $1 million in commissions according to the company’s policy. The deals with the two utility companies were actually closed in FY 2015. Carman was not informed of change to the commission policy for FY 2015 until after the deals closed. The policy change left him with approximately ¼ of what he would have received if the deals closed during the previous fiscal year.

The Defendant convinced the jury that this type of policy change (even their retroactive nature) is standard practice in the industry and that Carman, as an experienced salesman in the industry, should have been understood the situation. Wrongful termination damages are trebled under California law so C3 faced a potential $8 million in damages and attorney fees at trial. The plaintiff and his legal representation did not deny the possibility of an appeal.

If you are struggling to get your employer to fulfill agreed upon payment arrangements or if you have been wrongfully terminated, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Napa Valley Resort Faces California Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

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Daniel Philbin (aka Dan) recently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against a Carneros Resort and Spa, a Napa Valley Resort. Philbin is a former Director of Facilities. At this point, the facts are muddied by what very quickly became a case of he said, she said.

Philbin alleges he was fired from his job. The resort’s public relations firm claims Philbin resigned voluntarily after a renegotiation of the terms of his employment was unsuccessful.

Philbin claims that during the course of his time as Director of Facilities, he made numerous attempts to get his employer to comply with standards required by the American with Disabilities Act, provide an accurate reporting of water usage, and procure the necessary permits required by law. Philbin alleges he was fired out of retaliation for his efforts. Carneros claims that the water issues Philbin mentions pre-date the current ownership of the resort and that the current owners actually brought the problem to the attention of the County in 2014. They claim that the resort addressed all concerns regarding ADA issues when they were brought to the company’s attention. They also claim that Philbin’s California wrongful termination suit is without merit.

In support of his allegations, Philbin claims:

In 2014, the resort refused to install ramps between the deck and patio spaces and lifts at the hot tubs and pools that would have allowed guests with disabilities to access their facilities and services.

Carneros obtained a permit for the drilling of a new well in 2015, but did not obtain the associated permits required for subsequent electrical and water connections.

Philbin claims he noted an error in documents regarding water consumption that were submitted to the municipality and his efforts were ignored.

According to Philbin, the company started to exclude him from meetings, and quickly became confusing and difficult. Philbin states that he suggested he direct all his energy on the job towards the water situation since it was an important issue and allow a co-worker to handle the rest of his work duties. The suggestion was rejected by Carneros and Philbin was informed weeks later that an outside vendor would be handling the resort’s water issues and he would stay on for a flat monthly rate. Philbin states that he thought about the offer for about a week before accepting the flat rate offer. Instead, he suddenly received notice that his resignation had been accepted by Carneros – even though Philbin claims he never issued his resignation.

Philbin seeks a trial by jury, damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.

If you have questions about what constitutes wrongful termination, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

A Former Walt Disney Employee Accuses the Most Magical Place on Earth of Wrongful Termination

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A former Walt Disney employee, Angela Devore, is suing. Allegations include: discrimination, violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act and wrongful termination. She filed the complaint in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Western Division on January 3rd, 2018. The suit (U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Western Division case number 18-cv-00041) was filed against Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development Inc. alleging that they violated her rights as an employee to family and medical leave.

The Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA is a labor law that requires larger employers to provide employees with unpaid leave for serious health conditions, to care for family members who are sick or experiencing serious health conditions, or to care for a newborn or adopted child.

Devore was hired as a set decorator in May of 2014. She was terminated on January 4, 2016.

According to the suit, Devore suffered (and will continue suffering) damages from lost wages, lost bonuses, lost benefits, emotional distress, mental suffering, and other pecuniary loss. Decore alleges that Disney interfered with her right to use her FMLA leave to provide care for her father when he needed assistance with serious health conditions during her time with the company.

Wrongful Termination is a legal term used to describe instances in which an employee’s contract of employment has been terminated by the employer, where the termination breaches one or more terms of the contract of employment, or a statute provision or rule in employment law. In this case, Devore claims she was wrongfully terminated because the FMLA required her employer to allow her to take unpaid leave without discharge. 

Devore claims that the company discriminated against her when they terminated her employment as she tried to exercise her right to take FMLA leave and then refused to reinstate her to her previous position at a later date.

Devore is seeking a trial by jury, economic, non-economic and liquidated damages, interest, declaratory and injunctive relief, attorney fees, etc. all in accordance with what the court deems just.

If you need help handling a wrongful termination or if you are being discrimated against in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

California Toyota Dealership Accused of Wrongful Termination

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Josh Beaulieu, a former technician/mechanic for a Sacramento, California Toyota dealership is suing for alleged defamation, workplace retaliation, wrongful termination and hostile work environment. 

Beaulieu filed the complaint in Kern County on November 2, 2017 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The suit was filed against Madland Toyota-Lift Inc. and Mary Madland. Beaulieu alleges malicious treatment amidst other allegations. 

According to the lawsuit, Beaulieu started work for Madland Toyota-Lift in August 2016. He states that on May 23, 2017, he suffered damages as a direct result of his wrongful termination. Damages Beaulieu cites in the complaint include: lost income, loss of employee benefits, emotional distress related to the job loss and mental anguish due to the wrongful termination. 

Beaulieu’s lawsuit states that he was falsely accused of carrying a gun on the job at Madland Toyota-Life in Sacramento, California. He also states that he had previously been subjected to a number of hostile situations by a number of Hispanic employees at the dealership. Beaulieu, plaintiff, alleges that the dealership forced him to retain legal representation when they terminated him in bad faith without any reasonable grounds for the adverse action as well as failing to take appropriate action to protect Beaulieu from oppressive and malicious treatment on the job at the dealership. The plaintiff seeks a trial by jury, damages (both economic and punitive), injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and costs, and any additional relief the court deems fair. 

If you have questions regarding how to respond to a hostile work environment or what constitutes wrongful termination, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik

Wrongful Termination Suit Aimed at NBCUniversal Amidst Sexual Harassment Allegations

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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.

Barnes & Noble Facing Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

In an April 14th opinion, a California appeals court offered a summary judgment in a Barnes & Noble wrongful termination lawsuit. The summary judgment may have branded the popular retail bookstore as having wrongfully firing an employee who had been with them for 23 years.

The opinion was handed down by the California Sixth Appellate District Chief Justice Conrad L. Rushing and associate justices, determining that the issues raised by Christine Oakes were valid issues to try in court in regards to wrongful termination claims based on gender discrimination, public policy and contractual obligations.

Oakes worked as a manager for Barnes & Noble’s West Valley-Mission Community College in Saratoga for eight years (2002-2010). At the end of this time period, she was fired. Unhappy with the termination of her employment, Oakes filed a complaint in 2012 listing various defendants: Barnes & Noble, West Valley College, Laurie Gaskin, and Rhea Kaston.

In 1999, according to the opinion, Barnes & Noble received acknowledgement that Oakes received and signed off on their company code of conduct and ethics. As Oakes signed off on the policy, the company notes that she was aware that she was free to leave Barnes & Noble at any time during her employment and that she was an “at will” employee. Oakes agreed that she understood the “at-will” employee status and agreed to no promise of tenure or any form of employment contract at that time. According to the opinion, Oakes stated that her understanding of her status as an “at-will” employee was that she had to “do something” to the company in order for them to dismiss her from employment.

Oakes claims in the lawsuit that as a manager, she was advised to use progressive discipline prior to firing anyone on staff. She was not instructed to use every disciplinary step in every case of potential termination. During her 23 years with Barnes & Noble, Oakes received annual performance reviews. From 2001 through 2008 these reviews indicated that she lacked communication skills and organizational skills necessary for her job. Yet her overall scores in her reviews met or exceeded company standards. While individual categories in her reviews usually met or exceeded company standards, she had a below standard score in fiscal matters. This is particularly true of 2009 when she reportedly ended with $66,000 of excess inventory at her bookstore. Amid student complaints, reported absence from meetings, etc. Oakes began to defend her behavior with claims of discrimination against her by Michael Renzi, a frequent contact as the college vice president’s primary liaison. In 2010, Renzi and the College President contacted Oakes’ supervisor with the decision that Oakes was not a good fit for the university.

With no alternative position with Barnes & Noble, Oakes was fired in 2010 without notice. In 2013, Barnes & Noble moved for summary judgment claiming that Oakes was an at-will employee terminated for legitimate reasons. Oakes argued gender discrimination as the company failed to protect her from alleged sexual harassment by Renzi. The court ruled that Oakes’ deposition testimony would be considered at trial as it favored neither her nor the defendants. A date for the trial has not been set.

If you have concerns regarding a potential wrongful termination, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.