Morrie’s 394 Hyundai found liable for retaliation against employee; must pay $200,000
October 14th, 2020
Jury finds company guilty of violating Minnesota Human Rights Act and Parenting Leave and Accommodations Act.
MINNEAPOLIS (OCTOBER 13, 2020): On Friday, October 9th, a jury found Morrie’s 394 Hyundai, LLC, liable for retaliation against former employee Victoria McVey and awarded her $200,000 in damages. The jury found two kinds of retaliation: for reporting gender discrimination in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act and for using personal sick leave benefits to care for her child in violation of the Minnesota Parenting Leave and Accommodations Act.
McVey was the dealership’s sole female Parts Counterperson and a top performer when Morrie’s Hyundai terminated her. She alleged that Morrie’s had treated her differently than her male colleagues in the almost three years she worked there. When McVey brought her concerns about gender discrimination to the Human Resources Director, she was accused of being “abrasive” and “difficult to approach.” She was also criticized for her lawful use of family leave time to care for her sick child. Ultimately, Morrie’s fired McVey with no notice or prior reprimands. The jury found that Morrie’s violated McVey’s rights under Minnesota’s human rights and parenting statutes and awarded her $200,000 in damages for backpay, frontpay and emotional distress.
McVey was represented by Halunen Law attorneys Amy E. Boyle and Colin J. Pasterski.
“We are pleased our client had her day in court and the jury found in her favor,” said Boyle. “Unfortunately, we see this all too often; she was a woman working in a male-dominated industry, who took time off work to care for her son and reported gender discrimination when Morrie’s did not want her to ‘throw those words around.’ Instead of responding to her concerns, Morrie’s labeled her as ‘difficult’ and subsequently, and illegally, terminated her. The fact that they challenged her legal right to take time to care for her sick child as a reason for termination is a glaring example of willing retaliation. It was a privilege to represent Victoria McVey in this case. She has endured a great deal, and this jury’s findings brings her some relief for the injustice she experienced.”
The case was one of the first in Hennepin County to be tried with COVID restrictions. Everyone wore masks in the courtroom (Judge, jurors, attorneys, court staff) except for the testifying witness; jurors were spaced out in the jury box and surrounding area; and the remaining areas in the courtroom were marked for social distancing. Boyle noted: “Hennepin County, Judge Robiner, and the Court staff did an excellent job implementing and enforcing safeguards to allow our civil justice system to run smoothly and keep everyone as safe as possible.”
The two statutes underlying this case are: (1) the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minn. Stat. § 363A.08, subdiv. 2 which states “it is an unfair employment practice for an employer, because of . . . sex . . . to . . . discriminate against a person with respect to hiring, tenure, compensation, terms, upgrading, conditions, facilities, or privileges of employment,” and § 363A.15, subdiv. 2 which states “[i]t is an unfair discriminatory practice . . . to intentionally engage in any reprisal against any person because that person . . . opposed a practice forbidden under this chapter”; and (2) the Minnesota Parenting Leave and Accommodations Act, Minn. Stat. § 181.9413,which states “[a]n employer shall not retaliate against an employee for requesting or obtaining a leave of absence under this section.”
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