Staples facilities manager, 64, fired after age harassment. $26.1 million verdict. Los Angeles County.
Older, higher paid manager is harassed by supervisors at Staples, but he won't resign and is later terminated. Jury awards major punitive damages.
- Case Name: Bobby Dean Nickel v. Staples Contract & Commercial, Inc., and Staples, Inc.
- Court and Case Number: LASC-Stanley Mosk / BC 481 391
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, February 25, 2014
- Date Action was Filed: Thursday, March 22, 2012
- Type of Action: Employment, Wrongful Termination
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Mark V. Mooney
- Plaintiffs: Bobby Dean Nickel
- Defendants: Staples Contract & Commercial, IncStaples, Inc
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $26,107,328
- Economic Damages:
- Punitive Damages:
Staples Contract & Commercial, Inc.: $13,053,664
Staples, Inc.: $9,790,248
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 12 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours
- Attorney for the Plaintiff: Shegerian & Associates, Inc. by Carney R. Shegerian, Santa Monica.Urbanic & Associates by James Urbanic, Los Angeles.
- Attorney for the Defendant: Littler Mendelson by Keith Jacoby and Janel Ablon, Los Angeles.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Experts: Warren Procci, M.D., psychiatry, Los Angeles.
- Defendant's Medical Experts: Francine Kulick, Ph.D., psychology, Santa Monica.
- Plaintiff's Technical Experts: Tamorah Hunt, Ph.D., economics, Santa Ana.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Plaintiff Bobby Nickel was employed by Corporate Express, beginning on August 19, 2002, as a facilities manager. Defendants Staples Contract and Staples acquired Corporate Express in approximately 2008. Plaintiff alleges that his employment with Staples Contract & Commercial, Inc. and Staples Inc. was wrongfully terminated and that he was discriminated against on the basis of age in violation of FEHA.
Plaintiff was age 64 at the time of his termination on July 29, 2011.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That plaintiff had regularly received positive reviews for performing his work in an exemplary manner.
That because Corporate Express’ pay scale had been higher than the pay scale for employees hired by Staples, his mangers noted that they needed to “get rid of” older, higher paid employees. Also, that he became the regular butt of jokes at staff meetings and was referred to as “old coot” and “old goat.”
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, including being written up and suspended for “stealing,” after taking a bell pepper valued at 68 cents from the company cafeteria.
Further, that 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.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendants deny all of plaintiff’s allegations. Defendants deny that any action on their behalf was taken illegally and likewise deny that plaintiff has suffered damages.
This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.
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