A jury in Los Angeles ordered Staples Contract and Commercial, Inc. and Staples, Inc. to pay more than $26.1 million to a man who was a victim of wrongful termination and age discrimination.
According to plaintiff lawyer, Carney Shegerian of Shegerian & Associates, Inc., a Santa Monica-based litigation law firm specializing in employee rights, this is the largest employment related award of its kind in Los Angeles legal history, breaking the previous record of $21.6 million, set last year by another Shegerian & Associates client.
The jury found that supervising managers at Staples discriminated against Bob Nickel based upon his age. Shegerian was able to show that this termination was wrongful and had followed a series of discriminatory and harassing events.
Nickel, a 64-year old man at the time of his termination, was employed by Corporate Express since August, 2002 as a facilities manager. Staples Contract and Staples Inc. acquired Corporate Express in 2008. For nine years, Nickel received regularly positive reviews for performing his work in an exemplary manner.
Because Corporate Express’ pay scale had been higher than the pay scale for employees hired by Staples, Nickel alleged in his complaint that his mangers noted that they needed to “get rid of” older, higher paid employees. Nickel’s complaint also explained how he became the regular butt of jokes at staff meetings and was referred to as “old coot” and “old goat.”
Among the compelling evidence Shegerian presented during the trial was the fact that after Nickel refused to resign voluntarily when prompted to by a manager, he underwent a series of false accusations and increasing levels of harassment from co-workers and a manager. This included being written up and suspended for “stealing,” after taking a bell pepper valued at 68 cents from the company cafeteria. Further, a receptionist had approached Nickel explaining she had been ordered by management to provide a false statement about Nickel’s conduct but she refused to do so. Regardless, Nickel was fired on July 29, 2011.
“It’s been a privilege to have had the opportunity to represent Mr. Nickel,” said Shegerian. “He has a long history of being a hard working, ethical professional who had held his position of employment for almost a decade prior to his wrongful termination. This verdict and the justice served will hopefully put employers on notice that they cannot discriminate against employees based on age.”
“Thanks to the hard work and excellent representation by Carney Shegerian and the Shegerian and Associates team, my story was told and justice prevailed,” said Nickel. “Hopefully this verdict will send a strong message to employers that they cannot discriminate against older workers.”
An experienced trial attorney and Trial Lawyer of the Year Award winner for 2013, Shegerian has tried many jury trials to verdict in both state and federal court, representing individuals that have suffered financial or emotional losses and have been wronged by employers, including major corporations. Shegerian built his career on helping those who have been wronged in the workplace. His remarkable success rate is highlighted by over 68 jury trial wins, including 28 seven figure verdicts representing employees.