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February 2018

Los Angeles Employment Team Obtains Back to Back Defense Verdicts

Two days after securing a defense verdict on January 22, 2018, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Los Angeles senior partner Stephen Ronk, partner Erika Shao, and associate Nicole Lomibao began another trial that ultimately resulted in a defense verdict for Gordon & Rees’s longtime client, a large educational institution and medical center, against claims of national origin discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Jury selection began on January 24, 2018.

The plaintiff, who holds both an M.D. and a Ph.D, alleged that the educational institution did not renew the second year of his postdoctoral fellowship because of his complaints of national origin discrimination and harassment. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that his laboratory trainer was dismissive of him and harassed him because he spoke with an accent. He claimed that the educational institution was tired of his complaints and thus made the decision to not renew his fellowship in retaliation for his complaints.

The defense team demonstrated that the plaintiff’s “complaints” did not mention national origin discrimination or harassment until after he had learned about the decision not to renew his appointment. During trial, the defense team highlighted all of the plaintiff’s performance evaluations, which were completed at three-month intervals, reflecting the plaintiff’s lack of progression in the fellowship program and his overall substandard performance. The defense team further pointed out that all of the plaintiff’s faculty committee members consistently rated his performance as marginal, which supported the educational institution’s decision to not renew the second year of his postdoctoral fellowship.

After a two-week trial and less than a day of deliberations, the jury returned a defense verdict on all of plaintiff’s causes of action. This defense verdict was rendered just a little more than two weeks after this same defense team secured a defense verdict in a disability discrimination, failure to accommodate and wrongful termination case in the same courthouse. 

The Los Angeles team would also like to thank paralegal Marita Navarro, project analyst Jesse Orosz, and legal secretary Soo Arvizu for their invaluable help in achieving this result.

Nicole T. Lomibao
Stephen E. Ronk
Erika L. Shao