No. 1 in a series about discrimination and retaliation.
Somers was fired for performance on April 9, 2014. A few weeks later, Digital added misconduct. Below is a scenario created that parallels that which Digital, actually their insurance company, Chubb, is now basing their defense on.
Mike: “Did you hear?”
Phil: “Hear what?”
Mike: “It was about an hour ago.”
Phil: “What, what’s up?
Mike: “He’s out, history. They did an investigation.”
Phil: “Whoa! what happened!
Mike: “Andy’s gone, they fired him on the spot and walked him to the elevator.
Phil: “What!? Why!?
Mike: Let’s go into my office…… Close the door. Ok, so he got caught up in some very unsavory business.
Phil: “What? Andy? Nahhh, I don’t believe it.”
Mike: “I am not supposed to tell you this but here goes. You also know that Andy reports to Steinbrenner now, right?
Phil: “Yeah since last month..”
Mike: “So Elena was on an email fishing expedition and she noticed that 8 months ago, Andy booked at ticket on United to go to Hong Kong, it was about $6,500.”
Phil: “Yeah so… that seems about right.”
Mike: “What he failed to disclose to Steinbrenner is that his sister works for United.”
Phil: “So what, does she own the airline?“.
Mike: “Nah, she’s an accountant in Chicago, mid-level type job.“.
Phil: “I don’t get it, there’s no wrongdoing there!“.
Mike: I hear ya. Someone must have had it out for him. No severance either. They won’t even give him notice to make it looks like he resigned. They also left him with a lease on his expat apartment for more than $160,000. Can you believe it? No letter of recommendation. And it’s already all over the company. His career is really going to suffer.
Phil: Contrast that with the new SVP. She hired the catering company her brother started last year? We will probably ordering from them again and again…It’s different at the SVP level, they are not subject to the same rules as us the rank and file. They get a lot more leeway.
Mike: Perk of the job, I suppose!
Should Andy have been fired? Digital’s Code of Conduct says nothing about hiring a company that a relative works for without being an owner or even holding shares. If they own it, it’s a different story.
VP Paul Somers was fired in retaliation for reporting Kris Kumar to senior management for the reasons detailed in his lawsuit. The former head of HR, Ellen Jacobs then fabricated a story to cover up their illegal efforts. Digital never expected to be challenged. This is apparent from their sloppy attempts to make their statements and actions appear credible. Mr. Somers has many claims against Digital including defamation due to the malice intended by executives Kumar and Jacobs. To be clear, Mr. Somers fully disclosed to Digital well prior to the work starting that his brother was a mid-level employee at a large company that completed a marketing video for the Hong Kong DC after many attempts and failures by others. Even Ms. Jacobs remarked that the cost of the work was less than she paid for some training videos. It was such a good deal that Digital has contacted Mr. Somers the editing firm several times and requested proposals for more work to be done. Come on Digital!
The entire situation is ludicrous. Digital has made grave mistakes which their insurance company, Chubb, is still in the dark on. Chubb is footing the bill for the damages to be awarded Mr. Somers under an EPL insurance policy, likely after the case goes to trial in 2017.