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May 2018

Southern California Team Prevails with Defense Verdict in a Whistleblower, Sexual Orientation Retaliation and Wrongful Termination Case

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani senior partner Russell P. Brown, partner Jon C. Yonemitsu, with assistance from associate Kara A. Ritter, successfully defended a nationwide industry leader in manufacturing of Kombucha against a whistleblower, sexual orientation retaliation and wrongful termination claim tried to a jury in downtown Los Angeles Superior Court. 

The plaintiff argued he was terminated from his employment for raising numerous complaints throughout his employment to his superiors about unsafe manufacturing practices that went unaddressed.  He further claimed Gordon & Rees’ client retaliated against him for being gay by disciplining him based on false complaints by co-workers that were encouraged by an alleged sexist supervisor and by terminating him within days of reporting other alleged homophobic comments about his sexual orientation.    

The plaintiff worked in the quality control department. The plaintiff’s job included ensuring compliance with safe manufacturing practices. The defense established the plaintiff was terminated for outright insubordination after confronting a department head in an unjustified aggressive and belligerent manner in violation of Company policy. The defense team also demonstrated that the plaintiff, from the outset of his employment, engaged in a pattern of unprofessional and disrespectful behavior towards his co-workers for which he was formally counseled. The plaintiff was not successful in establishing the discipline he received related to him being gay. The defense additionally established through the plaintiff and his own witnesses that the plaintiff lied to get the job in the first instance and that he held a racial animus against a co-worker suggesting his motivation in reporting the purported homophobic comments. 

After an eight day trial, the jury deliberated for a day and a half before returning a defense verdict on all of the plaintiff’s causes of action.

The Southern California team would also like to thank paralegal Joni Etue for her invaluable assistance in securing this result.

Russell P. Brown
Kara A. Ritter
Jon C. Yonemitsu



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