A Black woman is suing the weight loss and wellness clinic chain Lindora LLC, alleging her management job was eliminated in 2020 because of her race and due to her complaints about her work environment, which she says included being called “Cardi B” and hearing comments that George Floyd’s killing was justified.
The allegations in Tiffany Robertson’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit include wrongful termination, race discrimination and harassment, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Also named as a defendant is Bariatric Weight Management Systems, which co-owns and operates the clinics with Lindora.
Robertson is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit filed April 20. A Lindora representative could not be immediately reached for comment.
Robertson says she was hired in November 1993 and received several promotions and pay increases. She was promoted to an area manager position in September 2016, a job in which she often visited Lindora’s corporate headquarters and interacted with its executive management, according to her court papers.
Last June, Lindora’s chief marketing officer, a white man named Steve Patterson, referred to Robertson during one such visit as “Cardi B,” which the plaintiff believed to be racist and found offensive, the suit alleges.
“Cardi B. is a black rapper with blonde extensions who used to be a gang member, stripper, and victim of domestic violence,” the suit states. “Although plaintiff is a Black female with blonde extensions, she is a professional career woman and completely inapposite of Cardi B.”
That same month, Lindora’s chief people officer, a white woman named Carol Farrell, held a Zoom conference with area managers, including Robertson, in which she said it was “horrible” that Floyd was killed by then-Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, but that the looting that took place during subsequent protests should stop, the suit says.
“Her comment resonated with undertones of white privilege by emphasizing the stealing of goods from shops over the brutal murder of an innocent Black man,” the suit alleges.
Robertson was hurt by Farrelll’s remark and subsequent statement the next day at the corporate office where, in Robertson’s presence, she called Floyd a “criminal” and told the plaintiff that she heard Floyd had once held up a pregnant woman at gunpoint, according to the suit.
Farrell told Robertson that after she heard about Floyd’s past, it changed her opinion of him, suggesting his death was justified, according to the suit.
Robertson says she later made written complaints of race discrimination and harassment to Lindora CEO Will Righeimer, who is white, and also protested that Lindora did not honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day and about the “apparent lack of Blacks in management.”
Righeimer was “dismissive” about Robertson’s concerns and said he was not going to discipline Patterson or Farrell, according to the lawsuit.
Last July, Robertson was given a written 30-day corrective action plan for alleged operational deficiencies at the Lindora clinic in South Torrance, which the plaintiff maintains were caused by the onsite clinic manager and other staff members.
Robertson says she soon thereafter took a medical leave of absence for a serious health condition and returned to work in September. She was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which she did under duress, and a promise to arbitrate all disputes, which she refused to sign, the suit states.
Robertson’s job was eliminated in October, but she alleges the motive for doing so was based on her race, her complaints and because she took medical leave.
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