California Jury Awards Employees $7.6 Million in Latest Gargantuan Wrongful Termination Verdict

Proskauer - California Employment Law
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Proskauer - California Employment Law

A Los Angeles jury has ordered an apartment building owner and property management company to pay $7.6 million to two former live-in apartment managers who claimed to have been wrongfully terminated and discriminated against based upon a medical condition and disability (thyroid cancer).

Albert Garcia and his wife Stephanie Garcia sued Gresham Apartments Investors, owners of a Canoga Park apartment building, and the property managers, Seltzer-Doren Management Co. Inc. dba Sierra Management, for: (1) violation of the employment provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) based upon a physical disability; (2) violation of FEHA – housing discrimination; and (3) wrongful termination.  Plaintiffs alleged they had been wrongfully terminated shortly after Mr. Garcia was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and requested accommodations and time off from work.  Upon termination, the Garcias alleged they had to leave their rent-free apartment unit, which was provided to them as part of their compensation.

After six hours of deliberation, the jury sided with the Garcias. The jury awarded Albert Garcia $2.35 million in compensatory damages for lost wages and emotional distress and $4 million in punitive damages and Stephanie Garcia $30,725 in compensatory damages and $1.25 million in punitive damages for a total verdict of $7,633,650. Added to that will likely be a substantial amount of prevailing-party attorney’s fees.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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