A Black former Williams-Sonoma Direct Inc. employee who alleged his ex-employer fired him in 2019 for complaining about discrimination and harassment on the job dropped his lawsuit, court papers show.
Lincoln Harmon’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed April 10, alleged wrongful termination, retaliation and disability discrimination. His attorneys filed papers with Judge Terry Green seeking dismissal of the case, but they did not divulge whether a settlement was reached or if the plaintiff was not pursuing the case for other reasons.
Harmon was hired in September 2013 and worked as a load planner streamlining aspects of freight transportation at the Williams-Sonoma plant in Walnut.
According to his court papers, the San Francisco-based kitchenware and household furnishings company has an attendance policy in place to manage employee absenteeism that allows management to discipline and, in some instances, fire employees who have excessive absences. Under the policy, employees are allowed four “emergency occurrences” days and eight days of sick pay each year, the suit says.
Harmon did not initially encounter any issues doing his job, but in early 2019, he complained when a co-worker called him a “discriminatory, racist remark” that offended him as a Black man, his suit says.
Another co-worker reported the remark to their manager on Harmon’s behalf, according to the suit, which says the employee who made the allegedly offensive remark was promoted.
In 2018, Harmon says he told the same manager that he had to care for his seriously ill mother and that he would occasionally need time off. Management led Harmon to believe he had to use his “emergency occurrences” days to take time off to care for his mother, the suit states.
Thinking he had either “emergency occurrences” or sick days available, Harmon told management before the start of one of his shifts in June 2019 that he wanted to take time off to care for his mother. But to his surprise, Harmon was fired on June 5, 2019, allegedly for excessive absenteeism, the suit states.
Harmon did not believe he had used up all his available days off, but maintains that even if management was correct, he was entitled to have the time off under the state’s Family Care and Medical Leave laws.
The manager, “clueless” of the obligations to explain that Harmon was entitled to take time off under the family leave laws, responded with a dismissive remark that made it clear to Harmon that the supervisor was frustrated by the plaintiff’s discrimination and harassment complaints and thus had a negative view of his request for time off, the suit alleges.
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