We represented “John” in a suit against his company for race discrimination and illegal withholding of earned money.
John was a salesperson for a company and was one of only a few black employees there. When he worked, he was often assigned to meet with potential customers that were outside of his geography assignment. He realized that when this happened, the potential customers were almost always in majority African-American neighborhoods or had traditionally black names. When John asked about this, the company didn’t deny that he was being assigned outside of his zone because of his race. He also felt that the company didn’t accommodate the scheduling conflicts he had, but that the conflicts of his white coworkers were addressed.
John also began to notice that his paychecks and commissions sometimes didn’t reflect company policy for the calculation of pay. When John requested the correct amount he earned or an explanation as to why he wasn’t being paid what he should have been, the company sometimes corrected the mistakes but other times refused and didn’t disclose why his pay was reduced. Despite these issues, John was a successful employee and became one of the best-performing salespeople working there.
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After a few years at the company, the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota sparked racial protests all across the U.S. During this time, John felt a shift in his treatment at the company, and he began to face increased discrimination. Despite record-breaking performance in his position, he received less reward and recognition for his sales. Company policy allowed leave for COVID-19, but when John requested leave to self-quarantine, they initially withheld his approval before allowing him to leave. When he returned from his two-week quarantine, he found he was not scheduled for work any longer. John asked a supervisor why he was no longer on the schedule, and they confirmed that it was because of his race. He also found out that he had been denied a bonus that he had earned from his record-breaking performance. When he went back to his supervisor to ask why he had been removed from the schedule and hadn’t been paid his bonus, John was fired.
After reviewing all of his previous paychecks and commission earnings, John found that the company had withheld close to $30,000 from him. Having uncovered this withholding, he requested the company pay him the missing money, and they refused.
We filed suit with John on charges of racial discrimination, retaliation in firing him and withholding his earnings, and wage theft. After we filed the complaint, the company made a motion for summary judgment, meaning that they tried to convince the court to dismiss the suit before going any further. The court denied the motion, saying that there was enough evidence to warrant the case potentially going to trial. After this order, the company settled for $275,000.
It was an honor to represent John and advocate for him to get the respect and income he deserved.