A former sales associate for a South Los Angeles clothing manufacturer is suing her ex-employer, alleging she was laid off in June for requesting to work from home in order to take care of her father during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nicole Orsini’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed against Edgemine Inc., alleges wrongful termination, retaliation, discrimination, failure to engage in the interactive process and failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation.
An Edgemine representative could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit filed Tuesday, which seeks unspecified damages.
Launched in 1994, Edgemine is a global fashion company that conceptualizes and develops “customer-centric clothing on the pulse of fashion at competitive and accessible price points,” according to its website.
Orsini says she was hired as a sales representative in February 2018 and was soon promoted to sales associate manager, making her responsible for overseeing and acting as a liaison for major accounts, analyzing annual profitability on a monthly basis, negotiating pricing and attending marketing meetings and trade shows.
Orsini also provided solutions for the company’s sales team when the vice president was unavailable and was among the top employees for sales every month, according to her court papers, which say she was earning $78,000 per year when she was fired.
Although Orsini primarily worked out of the company’s office on East 50th Street, in late March management instructed her and other employees to work from home because of the pandemic, the suit states. She performed her job well from home and although Edgemine laid off some employees during the virus outbreak, the sales team remained in place, according to the suit.
Orsini and the other members of the sales team were asked to return to work on May 28, causing her concern because her father had an impaired immune system after having a kidney transplant in 2018, the suit states. Orsini says she asked management if she could continue working from home until she received her coronavirus test results and the company agreed.
On June 4, a member of Edgemine’s human resources department said two employees tested positive for COVID-19 and were being told to stay home, the suit states. Five days later, Orsini emailed two company managers expressing her concern about the two workers who tested positive and told management about her father’s medical problems, according to her court papers.
Orsini says shse asked to be accommodated by continuing to work from home to protect her father’s health. One manager later replied that her request to work from home “isn’t an option,” but that she could use unpaid or personal time off, the suit states.
When Orsini objected and said it seemed unsafe that employees were allowed to return to work before receiving COVID-19 test results, the plaintiff was notified within hours that she was being laid off as of June 9, the suit says.
“Rather than allow plaintiff to work from home to accommodate the disability of her father, the company chose to terminate plaintiff’s employment under the guise of financial instability,” the suit alleges.
No other member of the sales team was laid off even though Orsini performed better than all of them, the suit alleges. The plaintiff also alleges that another sales team member who lives with her parents was allowed to work from home as a part-time employee.
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