Lawsuit accuses SoHo Apple store of discriminating against employee

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A former employee of Apple's retail store in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City has filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming she was discriminated against after she took a medical leave of absence.



According to a suit filed in a U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, Nicole Sullivan, 22, began work at the SoHo Apple Store in 2008. In April of 2009, she took a leave of absence due to a nervous disorder, and sought the services of a psychiatrist.



Sullivan was given disability leave through an independent company, and was reportedly assured by the third party that the details of her medical condition would not be released to Apple. However, when Sullivan returned to work in August of 2009 after she was cleared by a psychiatrist, she said it was "obvious" to her that the store's employees, and "especially" its human resources director, were aware of her medical condition.



In her four month leave, Sullivan's job was replaced, and she was reportedly told that she would remain in a "holding pattern" until proper work was found for her. The lawsuit claims she was sent to a room in the store's basement where she sat at a vacant desk.



"Many days went by and still Plaintiff was not assigned to any particular job, despite requesting that she be assigned to one," the complaint reads. "Plaintiff busied herself occasionally helping others but there were days where she had nothing to do."







The lawsuit states that Sullivan applied for numerous jobs at the store, including a "Genius" position. But, she claims she was told she was denied for that job because "there were questions about her mental stability."



Sullivan eventually moved to Chicago, Ill., because she was told there was an opening at Apple's retail store on North Michigan Avenue, but she did not receive that position either. The suit asserts that Apple engaged in "malice and reckless indifference" to the former employee's rights.



The lawsuit argues that Sullivan was denied positions in Apple because of a "perceived disability," but claims that she was cleared by a psychiatrist and was not mentally ill. It states that she "suffered emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment" because of Apple's actions.



Through the Law Offices of Richard D. Grossman in Chicago, Sullivan is seeking appropriate back pay, front pay, employment benefits and other compensation that was denied or lost. She also believes she is entitled to $300,000 in punitive damages for alleged discrimination and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.



The suit is the second filed this month accusing Apple's retail stores of discriminating against employees. One Florida man in his 60s is attempting to prove that an Orlando store denied him promotions because of his age.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    There's a good chance that HR didn't get wind of her affliction... maybe it was obvious to everyone that she wasn't mentally stable. She did after all voluntarily (or maybe not) get help.
  • Reply 2 of 48
    I think it was Colin Hay that said "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that everyone isn't out to get you..."

    Sounds like she was a bit off the rocker to begin with.
  • Reply 3 of 48
    They were paying her to do nothing? I'm surprised that some jumped up shareholder isn't the one doing the suing. You know the type, $10,000,000 in damages and seeking class action status because of - shock shock horror horror sock shock horror - inefficiencies in a corporate juggernaut! Such a thing is IMPOSSIBLE in capitalism isn't it?!
  • Reply 3 of 48
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    This is one of the most legitimate sounding cases against Apple, Inc. that I’ve read..





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jensonb View Post


    They were paying her to do nothing? I'm surprised that some jumped up shareholder isn't the one doing the suing. You know the type, $10,000,000 in damages and seeking class action status because of - shock shock horror horror sock shock horror - inefficiencies in a corporate juggernaut! Such a thing is IMPOSSIBLE in capitalism isn't it?!



    Or all the “working" employees who feel she was getting a free paycheck?
  • Reply 5 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    This is one of the most legitimate sounding cases against Apple, Inc. that I?ve read..



    You're just asking for someone to take you seriously...
  • Reply 6 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by island hermit View Post


    There's a good chance that HR didn't get wind of her affliction... maybe it was obvious to everyone that she wasn't mentally stable. She did after all voluntarily (or maybe not) get help.



    I take offense to you saying she was mentally unstable due to a nervous disorder.
  • Reply 7 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SHOBIZ View Post


    I take offense to you saying she was mentally unstable due to a nervous disorder.



    Not that I really give a rat's ass but where did "I" say she was mentally unstable? You can get all pc that you want but if a nervous disorder makes you look mentally unstable then you have to call a spade a spade. After all, we are talking about Apple here... any Android fan will tell you that Apple is all about looks and nothing more...
  • Reply 8 of 48
    Am I reading this right? She claims she was mistreated for a perceived disability that she doesn't have, but then sues under the Disability Act?
  • Reply 9 of 48
    Looking for a honey hole. What a joke. They paid her to do nothing. Probably all she could do.
  • Reply 10 of 48
    successsuccess Posts: 1,039member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by island hermit View Post


    There's a good chance that HR didn't get wind of her affliction... maybe it was obvious to everyone that she wasn't mentally stable. She did after all voluntarily (or maybe not) get help.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SHOBIZ View Post


    I take offense to you saying she was mentally unstable due to a nervous disorder.



    Are you nervous?
  • Reply 11 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by success View Post


    Are you nervous?



    Good point! I'm putting my sunglasses on...
  • Reply 12 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by amador_o View Post


    Am I reading this right? She claims she was mistreated for a perceived disability that she doesn't have, but then sues under the Disability Act?



    Yeah; that's sort of what I though I read as well (??)



    In any case, this whole thing is simply the price of doing business.

    The same thing happens at Best Buy, Ford, McDonalds, etc. every other day.
  • Reply 13 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by island hermit View Post


    Not that I really give a rat's ass but where did "I" say she was mentally unstable? You can get all pc that you want but if a nervous disorder makes you look mentally unstable then you have to call a spade a spade. After all, we are talking about Apple here... any Android fan will tell you that Apple is all about looks and nothing more...



    You said "maybe it was obvious to everyone that she wasn't mentally stable."



    The two are not the same thing at all. So it is not a spade.



    I have a nervous disorder (ADHD) and it has nothing to do with it being mentally unstable.





    Your attitude in your response speaks miles about you. Get over yourself.
  • Reply 14 of 48
    Gone for 4 months? Clearly a whacko and a nightmare for any other worker. Maybe she could drive a snowplow in Chicago.
  • Reply 15 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SHOBIZ View Post


    I have a nervous disorder (ADHD) and it has nothing to do with it being mentally unstable.



    Since when is ADHD a nervous dis SQUIRREL!





















    sorry.
  • Reply 16 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SHOBIZ View Post


    You said "maybe it was obvious to everyone that she wasn't mentally stable."



    The two are not the same thing at all. So it is not a spade.



    I have a nervous disorder (ADHD) and it has nothing to do with it being mentally unstable.





    Your attitude in your response speaks miles about you. Get over yourself.



    ... and in the article it says:



    The lawsuit states that Sullivan applied for numerous jobs at the store, including a "Genius" position. But, she claims she was told she was denied for that job because "there were questions about her mental stability."



    So... as you see... it wasn't I who called her mental stability into question... so, again, if her nervous disorder made her look like she was unstable then you have to call a spade a spade whether she was mentally stable or not. You more than anyone should know that a lot of people won't be comforted when they are told that "there is nothing to fear, the person only has a nervous disorder".



    I'd tell you to get over yourself but...
  • Reply 17 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by island hermit View Post


    There's a good chance that HR didn't get wind of her affliction... maybe it was obvious to everyone that she wasn't mentally stable. She did after all voluntarily (or maybe not) get help.



    Actually if she really was on a medical leave they probably were told at least if Apple is like my old job (also retail, fairly big company)



    If, at that company, you go on a medical leave they had stacks of paperwork to validate that you were fit to return. Including forms that had to be signed by your doctor that spell out what you are fit to do even. Her doctors should have never promised her that they would say nothing to Apple because chances are they had to for her to work again. Including telling if she was on mess etc. Which would be told to her managers. Maybe not the exact details but enough so that she wouldn't be placed in a task that would have them risking liability from a customer or this worker, say if she blew up at someone at the Genius Bar and verbally attacked the customer who then sued.



    Perhaps the reason she was stuck at a desk doing nothing was because of that paperwork. At my referenced job I was out for a week having my wisdom teeth removed. My dentist forgot to fax the paperwork on the Friday before I was going back on Monday and I was stuck at a desk not even allowed to answer the phon until the company got the fax, reviewed it and signed off. it seemed dumb to me at that time but in hindsight I understood why they were protecting themselves against workers comp etc.



    Remember she might claim it was just stress but what would her doctors say. Perhaps that stress was actually a verified anxiety disorder and she is fine so long as she isn't under tons of stress. Something that will happen at a major store at the Genuis Bar when they are behind, everyone needs their stuff fixed now, wants to yell and cuss at the Genuises etc. I see that stuff every time I go into my local Apple and it isn't a big one. I even heard a guy threaten to bet up the Genius who wouldn't fix his laptop because it had beer dripping out of it. And saw the customer throw the laptop at the kids head. Imagine how this young woman might react to that. It likely would not be great.



    This young woman may find that suing is a stupid move. Apple could be found at no fault. But in finding that, they are going to dig into details about exactly why she went on leave. And those deta will go into court records etc. She thinks folks were talking about her work, maybe they were maybe not. But folks will definitely be during this case. And in thi age of blogs and such there is no promise that it won't get out in detail at some point
  • Reply 18 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    Actually if she really was on a medical leave they probably were told at least if Apple is like my old job (also retail, fairly big company)



    If, at that company, you go on a medical leave they had stacks of paperwork to validate that you were fit to return. Including forms that had to be signed by your doctor that spell out what you are fit to do even.



    At my last job (and I mean last) it seemed that they didn't need a doctor to tell them what I was fit to do... "You don't want that to go out right away?! Give it to that ahole, it won't go anywhere for months!".
  • Reply 19 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by isaidso View Post


    Yeah; that's sort of what I though I read as well (??)



    In any case, this whole thing is simply the price of doing business.

    The same thing happens at Best Buy, Ford, McDonalds, etc. every other day.



    You're right. Employees can become dissatisfied for a million different reasons and not all of them are easily addressed without opening the company up to some kind of potential lawsuit. Real or imagined, these issues are an HR nightmare.
  • Reply 20 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SHOBIZ View Post


    You said "maybe it was obvious to everyone that she wasn't mentally stable."



    The two are not the same thing at all. So it is not a spade.



    I have a nervous disorder (ADHD) and it has nothing to do with it being mentally unstable.



    Your attitude in your response speaks miles about you. Get over yourself.



    Yup... It's all fun and games until one is on medication for various illnesses or conditions, whatever they may be, physical or mental. Then only will the empathy and understanding kick in.



    It's human nature.
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