Case Results – Employment Law
$363,462.03 for Plaintiff
PLAINTIFF’S VERDICT OF $363,000 PLUS ATTORNEY’S FEES AWARDED IN PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION CASE
Attorney Larry Schumaker of the Schumaker Center for Employment Law and Siro Smith Dickson Partner Eric Smith recently obtained a verdict for their client, Shanna Lambing , on her pregnancy discrimination claim in Kansas federal court against Berkley Insurance Company.
Ms. Lambing asserted violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), including pregnancy discrimination and retaliation. Ms. Lambing worked for Defendant as a Human Resources manager from March 25, 2019 until her wrongful termination January 23, 2020. Plaintiff brought suit claiming her termination was due to her high-risk pregnancy status and because she engaged in protected opposition activities including reporting sex discrimination against other employees.
Damages alleged by Ms. Lambing included emotional distress, lost wages totaling $43,462.03 in back pay; and punitive damages.
The Kansas City, Kansas federal jury of 8 men and women rendered a unanimous verdict of $363,462.03 for Ms. Lambing on her Pregnancy Discrimination claim , awarding $100,000 in compensatory damages for pain and suffering, $43,462.03 in back pay, and $220,000 awarded for punitive damages.
Attorney’s fees and costs will be awarded separately by the court pursuant to statute at a later date.
$5M Settlement in Human Rights Act Claim
Siro Smith Dickson negotiate a $5,000,000 settlement in a Missouri Human Rights Act claim for age and sex discrimination.
In the case of Linda Ardese v. Kansas City Southern Railroad, Siro Smith Dickson negotiated a $5,000,000 settlement shortly before the case was set to go to trial.
Due to the railroad’s serious misconduct during pre-trial discovery and trial preparation, the court entered sanction orders prohibiting the railroad from asserting any trial defenses on its liability for damages and ordering a trial on actual and punitive damages only.
$2.7 Million Jury Verdict for Veteran Police Officer
After a ten (10) day jury trial, our attorneys obtained a jury verdict of $2.7 million, in an age discrimination case against the Kansas City Missouri Police Department.
The firm’s client was an experienced and well-respected officer with over 24 years on the force. When the officer was given an ultimatum to transfer out of his position as a Community Action Network officer, and he believed the forced transfer was due to his age, he filed a grievance, which was summarily rejected by the Police Chief. He then filed with the appropriate Equal Employment agencies and pursued his claim in court.
The jury found that as a result of the Department’s discriminatory misconduct, the officer suffered past and future lost income and physical and emotional pain and suffering, in the amount of $700,000. The jury also found that the Department’s actions were willful, and in reckless disregard for the officer’s rights under the age discrimination law, and awarded an additional $2 million in punitive damages. The case was settled after trial.
$1.5 Million Settlement for Business Executive
BREACH OF EXECUTIVE CONTRACT:
After nearly four years of litigation in state and federal courts, we obtained a $1.5 million settlement for a business executive on claims of fraud and misrepresentation, and breach of contract. Our client was a local business owner who entered an agreement to sell his business to a national competitor and then to become employed to head up a division of the national company.
After he sold his company, the national buyer reneged on its promise to employ our client. Our initial demands for compensation were rejected and the national company even sued our client claiming over $2 million in counter-damages. After lengthy discovery and pre-trial preparation, the case was resolved with payment to our client of $1.5 million and dismissal of all of the claims against him.
$1.3 Million Judgment for Age Discrimination
In 2013, a new superintendent was hired in the Hickman Mills C-1 School District, and shortly thereafter the District terminated the contracts of all of the secondary principals and assistant principals without good cause, including Siro Smith Dickson client, Dr. Bill Scully.
Although all the principals and assistant principals were told they would have a fair opportunity to compete for their jobs, the evidence showed that the re-hire process was tainted by illegal motives. Prior to the mass layoffs, the average age of Assistant Principals in Hickman Mills was nearly 60 years old, including Dr. Scully who was 66 years of age at the time. After the re-hire process, the average age of Assistant Principals was around 40 years old.
Dr. Scully was a decorated, highly qualified, and successful school administrator, having previously been named the Missouri Middle School Principal of the Year. Dr. Scully sued the Hickman Mills C-1 School District in Jackson County Circuit Court for age discrimination.
The Hickman Mills school board had given the newly hired superintendent a blank slate to hire the candidates he preferred. “The end result was a significantly younger, less qualified group was hired in the place of more qualified, older candidates,” said Eric Smith of Siro Smith Dickson.
In November 2016, a Jackson County jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding in Dr. Scully’s favor, awarding him nearly $300,000 in compensatory damages and punitive damages in the amount of $450,000. The Court subsequently awarded Dr. Scully front pay as well as his attorney’s fees, costs, and interest.
Overall Judgement: $1,300,000
REMEMBER: It is illegal for any employer to discriminate or retaliate against anyone who belongs to a “protected class.” Employers generally cannot discriminate because of age, disability, gender, military status, national origin, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Likewise, employers may not retaliate against employees who raise concerns about illegal treatment at work.
$1.1 Million Judgment Against MoDOT for Employment Discrimination
A jury awarded our client Deanna McClurg $350,000 in compensatory, and $500,000 in punitive damages in an age and sex discrimination case against her former employer, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The case was filed and tried in St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.
Ms. McClurg worked for MoDOT for over 29 years. She started as a Maintenance Worker in 1984, was soon promoted to Crew Leader, then Maintenance Supervisor, and was promoted in 1997 to the position of Regional Maintenance Supervisor. She spent the first 27 years in the Faucett maintenance building, running the entire barn operations for over 17 years.
Ms. McClurg was a true trailblazer. She was MoDOT’s first woman Maintenance Crew Leader and the first woman Maintenance Supervisor in the entire State of Missouri.
In 2010 – 2011, the Department decided to take action to significantly reduce its operating expenses and initiated the Five Year Direction, followed by the more aggressive Bolder Five Year Direction. The Bolder plan required all Supervisors to re-apply for their own jobs and encouraged them to apply for several jobs because their job would not be protected in the reorganization. At the time of the Bolder plan, Ms. McClurg was the only woman Maintenance Supervisor out of 50 supervisors. After the reorganization, there were none.
Ms. McClurg applied for 10 Supervisor jobs and was rejected for all of them. MoDOT filled several of the positions with younger men, with far less experience. Many of the selected supervisors had recently documented discipline — Ms. McClurg had none. Ms. McClurg’s personnel file showed 27 years of strong performance, with absolutely no disciplinary write-ups.
When Ms. McClurg was passed over for all of the supervisor jobs and demoted to maintenance worker, she asserted her employment rights by filing a discrimination charge under the Missouri Human Rights Act, and this lawsuit.
Update: Following our motion for attorneys fees and costs as the prevailing party, the Court entered judgment for our client in the total amount of $1,121,857 plus interest, for her damages and attorneys fees and costs in this matter.
$750,000 Settlement For Former Kansas City Employee
Our client was a more than 17-year employee with the City of Kansas City, Missouri. She was an excellent employee with no legitimate complaints about her performance and always had high-performance evaluations. She was removed from her position as an Assistant Director in the Water Department in an alleged reorganization that only impacted her job, then moved to a position in the Public Works Department where she was shortly thereafter terminated for alleged lack of work and budget-cutting.
However, the City continued to post similar positions for hiring after our client was terminated, including her old position in the Water Department, but she was not even interviewed for these positions. Unfortunately, at almost 62 years old our client was not able to find re-employment. We filed claims of age, sex, and race discrimination, as well as retaliation, with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and reached a settlement on her behalf of $750,000.
$500,000 Jury Verdict in KCPS Whistle-blower Case
Our client was a 19-year employee of the Kansas City Public Schools with a spotless record serving as the Purchasing Director. During the final year of his employment, he was sabotaged and undermined by two new high-level officers who did not want to comply with the laws and policies required for public school district purchasing in spite of our client’s insistence that they follow the law.
The day before he was fired, our client objected that purchasing 3 Ford Escapes for the high-level officers to use as daily driving vehicles would violate state law and district purchasing policies. He was fired the next day for alleged “insubordination.” A Jackson County, Missouri jury found that he was wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy and awarded him $500,000 in damages. Please see the linked news article for more details about this case.
$425,000+ Settlement For Group of Healthcare Employees
AGE AND SEX DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION:
Our clients were long-term employees of a national health industry employer. They were each subjected to discriminatory actions and comments by a new regional manager, and they raised complaints to the company Human Resources office about his illegal conduct. Nothing was done to stop his actions and he then began a pattern of retaliating against each of our clients, ultimately leading to the wrongful termination of each. Their claims were filed jointly in state court and, after discovery, we successfully settled the matter for combined payments of more than $425,000.
$340,000 Settlement for Insurance Company Employee
Our client was a long-service expert employee in the life insurance business and he discovered fraudulent and illegal conduct by his employer directed against the insurance policyholders. He reported this conduct and demanded that it be stopped, eventually raising his claims to the CEO and General Counsel of the company. For his efforts, he was told to stop complaining or face discipline. He refused to be silenced and the insurance company fired him. We pursued claims of wrongful termination on his behalf and after more than three years of litigation, we obtained a settlement for our client of $340,000.
$325,000 Settlement for School Employee
Our client was a long-serving employee of a public school district. She was physically attacked at work by a student and suffered severe physical and emotional injuries that then required counseling and intermittent leaves of absence. The school district eventually decided it would not continue to allow our client to miss work for her counseling sessions and fired her. We sued for violations of disability laws and after a thorough discovery and trial preparation process, the case was settled by payment to our client of $325,000.
$250,000+ Settlement, Reinstatement and Retirement
FREE SPEECH RETALIATION AND AGE DISCRIMINATION:
Our client was a hard-working, long-serving local government employee. He identified fraudulent conduct involving a higher-level manager and reported that to the City Manager and City Council. Just a few weeks later the City announced it was going to “reduce its force” and about a month later, our client was fired in a reduction of only one person. He was told he could apply for open positions but when he did so, he was rejected. We sued for free speech violations and age discrimination. Discovery proved his claims were well-founded and the case was resolved by a settlement payment of more than $250,000 as well as an agreement to reinstate our client for a period of time in order to enhance his retirement pension benefits.
$250,000 Settlement for Public Relations Department Employee
Our client was wrongfully categorized as exempt from overtime wages even though she did not supervise employees and her duties were largely directed by her employer’s CEO. We brought suit on her behalf for her past due overtime and her wrongful termination. After discovery, the case was settled with payment to her in the amount of $250,000.
$210,000+ Settlement for Investment Bank Employee
RACE DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION:
Our client was a highly qualified African American Accounts Manager for the retirement services division of a national investment banking company. She had a history of high performance and yet with a new manager, she was singled out, disciplined and then fired for only being anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes late to work on a few days over a series of months, even though she was not being paid by the hour and she frequently worked 50 or more hours a week.
Other non-minority account managers were not singled out for the same conduct. We sued on her behalf for race discrimination and retaliation and the case was successfully settled with payment to our client of more than $210,000.
$210,000+ Settlement for Healthcare Manager
AGE AND SEX DISCRIMINATION:
Our client was a long-standing manager for a group of doctors. She was hired by a female doctor but after the female physicians left the practice in a dispute with the male doctors, she was then subjected to retaliation and discrimination by the remaining male doctors, ultimately being fired and wrongfully accused of illegal conduct. We sued for sex and age discrimination on her behalf and, after several months of discovery, the case was successfully settled with payment to our client for more than $210,000.
$180,000 Settlement For Health Products Store Manager
AGE AND SEX DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION:
Our client was the developer and manager of a specialty health products store that was owned by a large regional health system. After more than twenty years of successful growth and management of the business, she was placed under a new manager and shortly thereafter forced to hire a new “assistant” to manage the business–a much younger male.
The new “assistant” began sexually harassing other female employees of the store, and after our client reported him and tried to discipline him for his conduct, our client was instead fired and the harasser was promoted to replace her. We sued for age and sex discrimination and retaliation and the matter was successfully settled with payment to our client of $180,000.
$170,000+ Settlement for School Employee
RACE DISCRIMINATION, RETALIATION, MISREPRESENTATION:
Our client was a skilled African American manager in a local school district. She was recruited to be employed by a neighboring school district and accepted the job and resigned from her other position. Then shortly before she began employment with the new school, she was notified her employment offer was being rescinded and she was out of work as her previous employer had already hired someone to replace her. We sued for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, race discrimination, and retaliation. After more than 3 years of litigation, we settled the case on her behalf when the school agreed to pay her $175,000.
$125,000 Settlement For Pharmaceutical Representative
AGE AND SEX DISCRIMINATION:
Our client was a long-term pharmaceutical sales representative. She was a strong performer but in spite of that, a new manager with a reputation as a ladies’ man decided to write her up and place her on a bogus performance plan. Even though she succeeded by the terms of the plan she was still fired. We sued for age and sex discrimination and the matter was settled with payment to our client of $125,000.
$100,000 for Employee Against Former Employer
The firm settled a case brought by an employee against his employer for violating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Plaintiff claimed that the employer failed to give him his job back when he returned from his hospitalization and recovery from heart bypass surgery. The employee was fired the day he returned to work from his FMLA protected leave, even though he had been an effective, successful employee before he got sick. Plaintiff was prepared to prove that the firing violated his FMLA rights to get his job back on his return to work within the 12-week protected leave period.
$100,000 Settlement for Clerk
RACE DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION:
Our client was an African American clerical employee at a school working in the principal’s office. She was subjected to racially derogatory remarks and hostile, abusive statements and actions from the principal. She complained about harassment and was then fired within a couple of weeks. We brought suit for race discrimination and retaliation and the matter was successfully resolved after discovery with payment of $100,000, equivalent to four years salary for our client.
$39,573 Verdict for Plaintiff in Age Discrimination Case
WRONGFUL TERMINATION: SPENCER V. STUART HALL CO. & NEWELL CO.
Plaintiff alleged wrongful termination by the defendant (employer) due to age discrimination. Plaintiff had been employed by Defendant Stuart Hall Co., whose parent company is Defendant Newell Co., for 25 years, and was working as a supervisor when laid off during a workforce reduction.
The fifty-four-year-old Plaintiff alleged selection for layoff was based on age. Defendant alleged Plaintiff was laid off for poor work performance. Plaintiff was terminated four months after a layoff. All parties stipulated to $39,573 as the potential back pay amount, and the jury was asked only to decide if the statute had been violated and if such violation was willful.
Verdict: Jury found a willful violation of the statute by Defendants. Penalties and attorneys’ fees to be assessed by the Court.
Retaliation and Pregnancy Discrimination
RETALIATION CASE: LEE V. CITY OF KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
Plaintiff was a pregnant woman who worked as a Traffic Control Officer at the airport. Her duties included dispatching cabs from a cab lot when passengers called from the terminals.
She filed two sexual harassment complaints with the city citing the behavior of two cab drivers who were not city employees. Plaintiff was terminated at the end of her 6-month probationary period allegedly for attendance and performance issues.