$400,000 Retaliation & Constructive Termination Verdict

In 2013, Attorneys Gruenberg and Hanrahan arbitrated a retaliation and constructive termination case brought by Kelly Price Noble, against her former employer Cal-Diego Paralyzed Veterans Association.  The case was subject to mandatory arbitration due to an arbitration agreement in Price Noble’s employment agreement.  Cal-Diego PVA made no substantial settlement offer.  Through arbitration,  Attorneys Gruenberg and Hanrahan proved that Price Noble opposed racial discrimination, and that she was retaliated against and constructively terminated for that very reason.  Attorneys Gruenberg and Hanrahan received an award of $174,278.00.  In addition, they obtained an additional $225,722.00 in attorneys’ fees.

Price Noble worked for Cal-Diego PVA since April 2004.  Recognized as a strong performer, she was promoted to Executive Director in June 2005.  Thereafter, in August 2006, her peers with Cal-Diego PVA’s parent organization elected her to serve as Chair of the Association of Chapter Executive Directors.

In early-2011, Price Noble received a call from one of her peers from Cal-Diego PVA’s parent organizations.  This person advised Price Noble that his chapter’s president had called Black employees “Aunt Jemima.”  He also told Price Noble that the President had said, “Those Blacks stick together,” “We just need to clean house and hire two people that are white,” “You have to proofread her letters because she likes to type in Ebonics.”  Concerned that racial discrimination was running rampant in that chapter, Price Noble elevated the complaint.  She relayed the complaint to several high-ranking individuals at Cal-Diego.  Little did Price Noble know that she would wear these efforts as her scarlet letter.

Cal-Diego’s retaliation was swift.  Approximately one month after her complaint, Cal-Diego PVA’s President made a motion calling for Price Noble’s termination.  Instead, Cal-Diego PVA placed Price Noble on a 30-day monitoring.  One month later, at the next board meeting, Cal-Diego handed Price Noble an ultimatum.  If she refused to resign from her prestigious position as Chair of the Association of Chapter Executive Directors, she would be immediately terminated Cal-Diego PVA.  Price Noble reluctantly resigned from her position as Chair of the Association of Chapter Executive Directors.  However, Cal-Diego PVA continued in its effort to force Price Noble out of the organization.  Cal-Diego PVA’s President took away her job duties, instructed her to compile a list of bills she regularly paid on behalf of the organization, demanded the passwords to computers and online accounts, and demanded access to Cal-Diego’s storage unit.  Feeling the heat of Cal-Diego PVA’s retaliation, Price Noble involuntarily quit her employment with Cal-Diego PVA.

Through litigation, Attorneys Gruenberg and Hanrahan uncovered audio recordings of board meetings, wherein Cal-Diego PVA’s board members stated, “Our executive director had no business under any title involving herself in personnel issues at another chapter.  These rose to such a level that National PVA is concerned that we could have ended up in a court of law with her advice.”  A board member also chimed in, “I can tell you what’s going on, she is a black lady who don’t like to take orders from white guys.”