A jury Tuesday awarded $1.75 million to a 45-year-old Long Beach man who maintained that he was fired while on leave from Raytheon Co. while dealing with the emotional trauma of being wrongfully accused of work deficiencies.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel awarded $1 million in compensatory damages to Tristan Do after finding he was the victim of disability discrimination. They also granted him another $750,000 in punitive damages after concluding that the multibillion-dollar defense contractor acted with malice, oppression or fraud.
Do said he was pleased with the verdicts and hopes the punitive damages award sends a message to Raytheon, whose lawyers said in their court papers that the criticisms of Do stemmed from his own “disruptive and insubordinate conduct” and that he had no basis for claiming the conditions at the company were intolerable.
“What they did was depicable and it has to stop,” Do said.
Do, a Vietnamese refugee, said he had a good work record as a mechanical engineer for eight years, but that his work environment changed when Hector DeSimone, his new supervisor from Alabama, arrived and singled him out for performance deficiencies. Do maintained he performed his work in an efficient manner and did not deserve the criticisms.
According to Do’s court papers, he believed he was treated different because he was gay and that the reason DeSimone once invited him to a Bible prayer group was so that the plaintiff could pray for the foregiveness of his sins. However, the jury found Do was not the victim of sexual orientation discrimination.
Do’s lawyer, Patricio Barrera, said that his client suffered post-traumatic stress disorder because of his treatment on the job. While on a lengthy leave of absence that began in 2015, Do requested a transfer before returning to work, Barrera said.
Raytheon refused and fired Do in April 2017, Barrera said.
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