On June 24, 2020, the Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed an employment discrimination and retaliation suit brought by a former employee of LTL client EMPTECH. The suit alleged that following nearly a decade of exceptional performance, Plaintiff, the former Director of Operations, was demoted and ultimately fired for accommodating a subordinate employee’s disability and for championing the employee’s right to accommodation. Plaintiff claimed that when Emptech’s Chief Executive Officer learned about the accommodation, he became hostile towards both employees. Plaintiff further alleged that the CEO subsequently reprimanded, suspended and terminated the subordinate employee, and when Plaintiff protested these actions as purportedly illegal, she too was demoted and then fired within a few months of her complaints.
Although it was discovered during the litigation that Plaintiff was having an extra-marital affair with the subordinate employee for several years, that the two stole the company’s trade secrets and attempted to steal the company’s clients by starting a competing business, the Company did not assert such as a basis for Plaintiff’s separation. Rather, it was the CEO’s loss of confidence in Plaintiff’s ability to steer the company as second-in-command after receiving several complaints about her lack of guidance and productivity, a client’s dissatisfaction with her handling of its account, and Plaintiff’s sudden and unexcused absence from a critical meeting with a potential client that justified her dismissal.
LTL filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the case should be dismissed without trial because Plaintiff could not establish that her termination was motivated by anything other than her performance. In granting the motion, the Court observed that an employee cannot simply show the employer’s decision was wrong, mistaken or unwise and, in this case, Plaintiff’s evidence failed to show the employer’s reasoning was implausible or incredible.
“We are pleased that the Court was able to carefully consider our arguments that Plaintiff’s separation from the Company was based on nothing more than her performance,” said LTL’s Managing Partner David Ammons, Emptech’s lead counsel. “We could not be more excited for EMPTECH, a small business which has had to endure this litigation for more than two years.”
Associates Julia Levitskaia and Michael Pearlson assisted in the Company’s defense.