Employment Cases *

In General

We have found that, as far as juries are concerned, a person’s job is his or her lifeblood.  The loss of a job causes not just the loss of wages and benefits; it can cause emotional problems.  Juries are especially understanding of the injustice caused when an employee is wrongly fired, demoted, or disciplined. 

There are many types of employment cases with many differing statutes of limitations:  a whistleblower must file suit within 90 days; a woman who is sexually harassed may have 3 years; a person whose employment contract was breached may have 6 years; a person who was discriminated against because of age, physical or mental condition, may have 3 years.  There are many exceptions.

The key to any employment case is the client’s suitability and willingness to perform an honest day’s work.  If fired, the key remains the willingness to mitigate – seek other work of a substantially similar type.

Secretaries/Staff Constructively Discharged for Testifying for

Co-worker:  $1,100,000 verdict and confidential settlement

The law forbids discrimination for two types of whistleblower – 1) the person who reports wrongdoing, and 2) any person who testifies in a whistleblower case.  In this case, a secretary and a staff member testified that a co-worker’s complaints of fraud were true.  They became subjected to harassment at work, and ultimately, these long-time employees could not longer take the harassment and quit.  They had been paid about $25,000 per year, and at the time of trial, they had each been out of work for about 2 years.  The jury recognized a grave injustice and awarded these women a very significant amount.  Read News Article  (may take a minute to download)

Additional Whistleblower Retaliation: $350,000 case evaluation, Confidential Settlement

After the secretary settled the original whistleblower suit (the previous whistleblower verdict of $1.1 million) the former employer cancelled her health benefit.  The key to this case was proving that she had not released her right to health benefits in the prior settlement.  The legal analysis and research required a very intricate review of contract law.  Read News Article  (may take a minute to download)

Murder by a Contract Co-worker: $500,000 settlement

Increasingly, employers are using “contract” workers to avoid paying benefits for full-time employees.  When they hire outsiders, however, there is the danger of the unknown – is the contract worker a safe, reliable citizen?  In this tragic case, a contract co-worker with a criminal history bludgeoned the client’s son to death after work.  Even after the contractor was sentenced to prison, the client’s mother was convinced this was not a random act of violence.  Intense investigation disclosed that the contract worker had a history that should have prevented his hiring, and which needlessly exposed the client’s son to harm.   The key to this case was a mother’s intuition, and intense investigation.

Defamation of a Township Supervisor: $110,000 verdict 

A Township supervisor was voted into office to “clean house.”  However, a group of disgruntled voters opposed her;  they circulated a memo falsely accusing the supervisor of wrong-doing.  Although the client never lost any money, in this unusual case the jury awarded significant compensation and – perhaps more importantly – added a note to the verdict demanding the defendants publish a public apology.  The key in this case was explaining to the jury that the client was in favor of “free speech” but the defendants were hiding behind “free speech” to tell hurtful lies, even after being told that they were lies.  Read News Article  (may take a minute to download)

Handicap Discrimination: $150,000 verdict

Although handicap discrimination is often thought to apply only to disabled workers, the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act provides protection for many more individuals.  The client in this case had survived breast cancer surgery, but the removal of her lymph gland meant she could not work in factory positions where she might suffer cuts.  After moving her to a new position, the employer later claimed there was no place for her anymore. At trial, the employer came up with an offer to clean the toilets – after years as a clerical worker.  The jury awarded the client well, given that she had already found another job.  The key to this case was the client’s excellent work history, and her trust in the jury’s sense of fair-play (she turned down settlement prior to trial.)

Sexual Harassment of Corrections Officers: $475,000 settlement

State officials are not immune from liability for co-workers making crude remarks and harassing women, once the State supervisors find it is occuring.  Every employer may be liable if its supervisors do such things, and the supervisors may be held personally liable, under certain circumstances.  The key to this case was intensive investigation within the State system.

Whistleblower in County Building Inspection

Department: $165,000 verdict

A secretary in the county department blew the whistle on a supervisor who was probably skimming and was giving permits that may have been fraudulent.  The client made about $24,000 per year, and because the statute of limitations for whistleblower cases is so short, this client’s case came to trial little more than a year after she was fired.  Nonetheless, the jury recognized the grave injustice that had occurred and awarded the client enough money to fulfill her dream of attending college and establishing a new career.

* These employment cases are chosen from many more, to illustrate some of the variety of the issues we have dealt with.

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