$400,000 Retaliation & Constructive Termination Verdict

In 2013, Josh Gruenberg and his team arbitrated a retaliation and constructive termination case brought by a plaintiff against her former employer.  The case was subject to mandatory arbitration due to an arbitration agreement in the plaintiff’s employment agreement.  The defendant made no substantial settlement offer.  Through arbitration,  our attorneys proved that their client opposed racial discrimination, and that she was retaliated against and constructively terminated for that very reason.  Attorney Josh Gruenberg and his team received an award of $174,278.00.  In addition, they obtained an additional $225,722.00 in attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiff had worked for the defendant since April 2004.  Recognized as a strong performer, she was promoted to Executive Director in June 2005.  Thereafter, in August 2006, her peers with the defandant’s parent organization elected her to serve as Chair of the Association of Chapter Executive Directors.

In early-2011, she received a call from one of her peers from the defendant’s parent organizations.  This person advised her that his chapter’s president had called Black employees “Aunt Jemima.”  He also told her 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, the plaintiff elevated the complaint.  She relayed the complaint to several high-ranking individuals at her organization.  Little did she know that she would wear these efforts as her scarlet letter.

The defendant’s retaliation was swift.  Approximately one month after her complaint, her organization’s President made a motion calling for her termination.  Instead, she was placed on a 30-day monitoring.  One month later, at the next board meeting, she was handed 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.  The plaintiff reluctantly resigned from her position as Chair of the Association of Chapter Executive Directors.  However, the defendant continued in its effort to force her out of the organization.  The organization’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 the organization’s storage unit.  Feeling the heat of her employer’s retaliation, she involuntarily quit her employment.

Through litigation, our attorneys uncovered audio recordings of board meetings, wherein the defendant’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 (our parent organization) 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.”