A former employee of a cellular company won $5 million in a disability discrimination lawsuit against his former employer in California. Stephen Colucci was a T-Mobile retail store manager for seven years. In July 2014, Colucci’s new regional manager told him that he was being transferred to another work location – a T-Mobile kiosk located inside the Ontario Mills Mall. Colucci suffers from agoraphobia, PTSD, and panic disorder based on witnessing a stabbing incident when he was a teenager. Colucci disclosed his disability to his new supervisor, and to Human Resources and offered to transfer to a different location or to remain in the store he was managing. He was not transferred to the kiosk but he was thereafter verbally harassed and mocked by the new supervisor. Colucci lodged a harassment complaint to T-Mobile’s integrity line hotline and confronted his new supervisor about the harassment. Within hours of learning about Colucci’s complaint, the new supervisor terminated his employment, allegedly based on a violation of the company’s conflict of interest policy. Colucci established that the stated reason was pretextual and that the real reason he was terminated was based on retaliatory motives. T-Mobile retaliated against Colucci by terminating him within hours of making complaints about his new supervisor. T-Mobile’s Human Resources Department did not investigate the complaints and supported the new supervisor’s decision to terminate Colucci. T-Mobile’s internal paperwork indicated that “litigation was probable” at the time of termination. In addition, T-Mobile’s loss prevention team discussed the termination decision on a recorded conference call and a loss prevention manager reported on the call that Colucci was terminated for making complaints. National Trial Lawyers member Pat Barrera of Barrera and Associates in El Segundo represented Colucci. The Superior Court awarded Colucci $5,020,042.00 in damages in October 2017. The court also denied T-Mobile’s post-trial motions for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in December 2017. Plaintiff’s motion for fees and costs is pending.
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