Court Refuses to Dismiss Lawsuit Filed by Walnut Creek Marriott Employee Who Allegedly ‘Stole Ice’

San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) March 13, 2017 - Windsor Capital Group, Inc., the same company that was recently hit with a $55 million jury award over an unauthorized nude video of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, is now being sued by its former employee who alleges he was wrongfully terminated for “stealing ice.” The employee claims the firing took place shortly after he made complaints about unpaid wages.

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On March 3 Judge Craddick of the Contra Costa County Superior Court denied the defense’s attempt to dismiss the case by finding triable issues surrounding the termination of plaintiff Art Bhavindhu. According to the ruling, the court found there was a question of fact whether the hotel’s explanation of the termination was pretext for retaliation for the wage complaints. The court also found that Bhavindhu submitted evidence calling into question the hotel’s claims that its manager was unaware of his wage complaints at the time he made the decision to terminate Bhavindhu.

Bhavindhu, 56, worked as a banquet supervisor for nearly 20 years at the Walnut Creek Marriott hotel, owned by Windsor Capital Group, Inc. During that period he received top performance reviews and dozens of complimentary letters and emails from guests. He admitted to taking some ice from a hotel ice machine at the end of his shift, saying it was a common practice for hotel employees. According to his termination notice, Bhavindhu’s employer accused him of being “dishonest regarding taking the company’s assets without a manager’s consent.”

Bhavindhu alleged in the lawsuit that he was fired because he raised complaints about unpaid wages. McCormack and Erlich, a San Francisco-based employment law firm that is representing the plaintiff, recently prevailed in a Motion for Leave to Amend. The law firm intends to add a cause of action for defamation based on his former employer’s accusations that Bhavindhu was dishonest and a thief. The defamatory verbal and written statements harmed Bhavindhu’s reputation, making it difficult for him to find a new job.

“It makes no sense that Windsor would fire one of its best employees for taking ice. It seems far more likely that they fired Mr. Bhavindhu because he complained about not being paid wages,” commented attorney Bryan McCormack. “It is illegal for an employer to fire or retaliate against an employee for asking to be paid wages they are owed. These victories mean we are getting closer to seeking justice for Mr. Bhavindhu.”

Bhavindhu said his termination came as a complete shock as he had received an excellent performance evaluation from his manager. He was also nominated for Employee of the Month on numerous occasions. The lawsuit said the defendant’s actions have caused him to suffer significant losses in earnings and other employment and retirement benefits, as well as embarrassment and emotional distress.

McCormack & Erlich
150 Post Street
Suite 742
San Francisco, CA 94108
Phone: (415) 296-8420

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