A man is suing a Hawthorne defense technology company, alleging he was harassed and derided for his military service and obligations, called a “crazy Army guy” and ultimately wrongfully fired because of those obligations in 2022.
Army officer Bradley Schamel’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against Epirus Inc. alleges wrongful termination, discrimination based on military service and status, disability discrimination, harassment, retaliation and failure to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment.
Schamel seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. An Epirus representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Tuesday.
Schamel suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the suit states. The holder of an MBA, he was hired by Epirus in January 2019 as chief of staff and in September of that year management decided to promote him within a few months to chief strategy officer with a raise and the granting of stock, the suit states.
In late October or early November 2019, Schamel told management about an upcoming military deployment to Ukraine and he went on a leave that was extended due to the coronavirus, the suit states.
Upon his return, Schamel was demoted by the company to the job of director of business development, a move the plaintiff alleges was done because of his military membership and deployment.
Schamel was referred to by managers as a “dumb army guy who doesn’t know how to do his job” and as the “crazy Army guy,” the suit states.
In August 2021, Epirus hired Rob Bocek as chief business officer and he became Schamel’s immediate supervisor, the suit states.
“Bocek maintained a campaign of harassment, intimidation and bullying towards plaintiff based on plaintiff’s membership in the armed services, his current military obligations and his (PTSD) disability,” the suits states.
Schamel also alleges his military service prompted Epirus to deny him the position of vice president of sales. Only one other person applied for the job and Bocek groomed the other candidate, who had less experience and seniority, for months, yet was still chosen over the plaintiff, the suit states.
Epirus terminated Schamel on Nov. 10, falsely stating that he had resigned, the suit alleges.
“The true reasons for plaintiff’s termination were discrimination and retaliation based on plaintiff’s military service obligations and his disability,” according to the suit, which further states the firing has left the plaintiff with “extreme emotional distress.”