Bolek Besser Glesius recently won a unanimous $986,605.21 age discrimination and retaliation verdict in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. Cathy Bolek and Matt Besser tried the case over two weeks on behalf of a former employee of one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Our client was a longtime, successful pharmaceutical sales representative, beloved by the physicians he called on. In his late 60s, he was also the oldest sales representative in his region by nearly a decade. The year before the company fired him, his sales were among the highest in the country.
Despite years of success, when our client got a new manager, things went downhill quickly. His significantly younger manager began making ageist comments, telling him he was forgetful, slow, and had lost a step. She also began treating his younger coworkers more favorably. For example, she looked the other way when they repeatedly violated company policy or even lied to her. But she nitpicked our client for every little thing.
Ohio lawyers fighting workplace retaliation
When our client saw the writing on the wall, he complained to the company about age discrimination. Unfortunately, the company conducted a sham investigation into his complaint. It assigned a human resources employee who—instead of investigating the complaint—used it as an opportunity to network with the supervisor for help getting a promotion.
From then on, our client’s younger supervisor began to retaliate against him, ratcheting up the pressure in an effort to force him to quit. Just a few months after our client’s discrimination complaint, his supervisor emailed another manager who had recently reviewed our client’s performance. She told the manager “I feel like he did a great job after reading” the written feedback. She then pressured the manager to change it “from something that was super positive in tone to something that was more critical in tone.” Our client’s supervisor then used the altered feedback to justify putting him on probation, before ultimately firing him for false reasons. The company then replaced our client with someone 27 years younger.
Cleveland attorneys who take on big companies
We sued in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. The litigation was vigorous, lasting several years, and involving more than 40,000 pages of documents and more than a dozen depositions.
Recently, Cathy Bolek and Matt Besser tried the case over two weeks. The jury deliberated for only 40 minutes before returning a unanimous $986,605.21 verdict—our client’s exact monetary request, to the penny. With the prospect of additional damages looming, the company settled just moments before the punitive damages phase was set to begin.
The jury’s verdict sends a strong message to companies doing business in Ohio—no matter how big they are—that nobody is above the law. Companies must judge their employees on merit, not on ageist stereotypes. The verdict also sends the message that when an employee complains of age discrimination (or any kind of discrimination), a company must conduct a fair investigation and not a sham to cover for misconduct.
At Bolek Besser Glesius, our employment discrimination lawyers fight for the underdog when the powerful step over the line. We were proud to stand up for our client in this important Cleveland discrimination case. If you or a loved one have been the victim of wrongful termination, contact us today.