LOS ANGELES, Nov. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — A California jury awarded a $8.46 million verdict yesterday for Shegerian & Associates’ client Talbert Mitchell against his former employer, SEIU Local 721. The lawsuit alleged SEIU discriminated against Mitchell on the basis of disability, taking medical leave, and ultimately wrongfully terminated Mitchell for whistleblowing.
Mitchell began working with SEIU in 1993 and performed all his job duties for 21 years in an exemplary manner. In 2012, he was promoted to Advocacy Coordinator and then Manager and in the absence of an Advocacy Director even assumed those job responsibilities. In September 2013, Mitchell went out on medical leave due to a hernia, requiring additional time thereafter due to medical complications after surgery, placing him on leave until January 2014.
Before his medical leave, in July 2013, Mitchell directed a report that revealed the existence of a backlog of arbitration cases pending scheduling, which he contended ultimately was the responsibility of the Legal Department. The Legal Department denied the existence of a backlog and refused accountability of the issue. Mitchell had previously raised similar concerns in the past.
Nevertheless, while Mitchell was on leave, a grievance was filed and Mitchell was targeted upon his return from medical leave. Mitchell alleged that he was treated differently and poorly after his return and was overlooked for promotion to Advocacy Director even though he had been already performing those job duties. Management and the Legal Department hired a friend of the General Counsel, who Mitchell alleged was retaliating against him for raising issues of the arbitration backlog. It was later revealed that when Mitchell applied for the Advocacy Director position, it was only after the Legal Department posted the job under the false pretense that it was actually available, as they had already offered the job to the General Counsel’s friend.
In February, 2014, Mitchell was then informed he would receive a 5% reduction in his salary. In March of 2014, Mitchell was then terminated for alleged “insubordination,” despite no documentation being presented showing any type of prior disciplinary action. It was then revealed that SEIU had placed in his personnel file, after his termination, admittedly “enhanced” documents that purported to show his insubordination.
Yesterday, a Los Angeles jury reached a verdict in the case, awarding Mitchell a $2,361,391 verdict against SEIU and an additional $6,100,000 in punitive damages, for a total verdict of $8,461,391.
“Talbert was an outstanding employee of SEIU for over 21 years, working with the Union for approximately 34 years in total. Due to his disability, needing medical leave, and his reporting of conduct he thought was illegal and which adversely affected union member rights, he became the target of his superiors and ultimately was terminated with a fabricated story,” said Carney Shegerian, Mitchell’s trial lawyer. “Talbert was morally treated wrong by his employer and superiors, and today a California jury of his peers announced that treatment was not only just illegal, but punishable.”
Headquartered in Santa Monica, California and with offices in San Diego, San Francisco, & New York, Shegerian & Associates is a law firm specializing in protecting the rights of employees who have been wronged by their employers. Carney Shegerian, Trial Lawyer of the Year Award winner for 2013, has won 77 jury trials in his career, including 34 seven figure verdicts. Shegerian & Associates is passionately dedicated to serving the needs of its clients. For more information about the firm, visit www.ShegerianLaw.com.
Media Contact: To arrange interviews with Carney Shegerian regarding this case or other employment law matters, please contact media@ShegerianLaw.com
Case # BC-575572
SOURCE Shegerian & Associates, Inc.