A Los Angeles jury has ordered an apartment building owner and property management company to pay $7.6 million to two former live-in apartment managers who claimed to have been wrongfully terminated and discriminated against based upon a medical condition and disability (thyroid cancer).

Albert Garcia and his wife Stephanie Garcia sued Gresham Apartments Investors, owners of a Canoga Park apartment building, and the property managers, Seltzer-Doren Management Co. Inc. dba Sierra Management, for: (1) violation of the employment provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) based upon a physical disability; (2) violation of FEHA – housing discrimination; and (3) wrongful termination.  Plaintiffs alleged they had been wrongfully terminated shortly after Mr. Garcia was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and requested accommodations and time off from work.  Upon termination, the Garcias alleged they had to leave their rent-free apartment unit, which was provided to them as part of their compensation.

After six hours of deliberation, the jury sided with the Garcias. The jury awarded Albert Garcia $2.35 million in compensatory damages for lost wages and emotional distress and $4 million in punitive damages and Stephanie Garcia $30,725 in compensatory damages and $1.25 million in punitive damages for a total verdict of $7,633,650. Added to that will likely be a substantial amount of prevailing-party attorney’s fees.

 

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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020; www.jurispub.com), co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.

Photo of Ariel Brotman Ariel Brotman

Ariel Brotman is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. She represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, trade secrets, and…

Ariel Brotman is an associate in the Labor & Employment Department and a member of the Employment Litigation & Arbitration Group. She represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including wage and hour, wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower, trade secrets, and breach of contract litigation, in both the single-plaintiff and class-action context. She also counsels employers on a diverse range of workplace issues.

Ariel earned her J.D. from USC Gould School of Law, where she was a member of the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal. During law school, she was also a clinical student in the University of Southern California Immigration Clinic. In addition, she served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Robert N. Kwan in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California.