San Diego Jury Sends Message Against Discrimination with $2.7M Verdict

San Diego Jury Sends Message Against Discrimination with $2.7 Million Verdict for Former Employee

A nearly six-year legal battle between Stryder Spillane and Culture Partners, who previously rebranded from the name Partners in Leadership, LLC, has come to an end after a March 24, 2023 jury verdict. The jury, which found that Spillane’s former employer was liable for disability discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, awarded Spillane 2.7 million dollars, after a month-long trial in which Spillane alleged he was wrongfully terminated on account of his Multiple Sclerosis.

Mr. Spillane has patiently awaited his day in court for a long time under difficult circumstances. To see his rights finally vindicated means everything.
— Anthony Nguyen

Spillane, who was hired as a Consultant in February of 2015, quickly rose through the ranks at Culture Partners to become Manager for the company’s Lead Development Team. There, he received an “Exceeds Expectations” rating in February of 2017, before this he suddenly became diagnosed with M.S. two months later and began experiencing speech aphasia, a condition that made it difficult for him to speak and form words. Spillane was forced to take time off for medical appointments and to deal with his condition.

As established at trial, employees at Culture Partners began to joke about Spillane’s condition and share a photo of him in the ER against his wishes. Senior management, including its high-level executive officers, also commented on his communication skills and “activity” level after his M.S. diagnosis. Spillane complained to HR, who failed to investigate his concerns and instead told the interim CEO about his complaint.

The next day, according to testimony, the CEO confronted Spillane and told him to stop complaining before orchestrating his exit from the company without Spillane’s knowledge. After another complaint made by Spillane to management occurred shortly thereafter, Spillane was subsequently removed from his management position, told to either resign or accept a lower-level position, and instructed not to further complain to anyone else, ultimately leading to Spillane’s termination from the company only two months after his disability diagnosis and one month after his first complaint to HR.

Spillane, who has been forced to live with his in-laws ever since his termination to support his family of six, testified that he still battles with severe depression because of his former employer’s actions, and has struggled to secure comparable employment since. 

“We are extremely happy for Mr. Spillane and his verdict.” said Spillane’s attorney, Anthony Nguyen Managing Attorney at Shegerian & Associates. “Mr. Spillane has patiently awaited his day in court for a long time under difficult circumstances. To see his rights finally vindicated means everything.”

Case Number: 37-2018-00009148-CU-WT-CTL