SUCCESS STORY

Multi-National Retailer’s Discrimination Mitigated

Claims Alleged: Employment Law Violations

Injuries Alleged: Employee Discrimination

Multi-National Retailer’s Discrimination Mitigated

The Background

A multi-national retailer found itself in a lawsuit filed by a former employee for discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and violating a permanent injunction. Smith Freed Eberhard was substituted as counsel just weeks before trial was scheduled.

The Strategy

Even though we had only a few weeks to learn the facts of the case, evaluate the risks to the client, and prepare witnesses for trial, the court refused to move the trial date. Through intensive and detailed analysis of the facts, claims, and witness statements, Smith Freed Eberhard attorneys discovered a defense theory that not been previously presented. Through aggressive and creative pretrial motions we argued that:

  • The injunction that the plaintiff was suing under was stayed pending appeal and was not in effect during the period of time alleged in the plaintiff’s claim;
  • The Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the injunctions “civil penalties” are punitive sanctions which must be brought pursuant to Oregon’s contempt statute, which the plaintiff had not done; and
  • The injunction was ambiguous and unenforceable in contempt and that imposition of the sanction would violate the defendant’s constitutional rights.

Additionally, the defense moved to separate the trial of the injunction claim from the discrimination claims.

The Outcome Ultimately, Smith Freed Eberhard’s innovative strategies resulted in a significant reduction in value of the plaintiff’s claim, which enabled the retailer to obtain a favorable settlement prior to trial.

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