Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Caught in Between -- Another MDV

When you see this kind of headline, I Spy With My Little Eye... Hotel Baker Gets $3 Million from Starwood you know that it is no doubt a complicated story. That it came at the end of a more than three week jury trial in federal court in NYC, confirms that.

Moises Mendez, a baker had complained about being "bullied" (that word again) based on national origin and also some surgical scars. But as the article points out, it was not only the verbal taunts that led to the award, but also the fact that the hotel had installed a camera in the kitchen where he worked.

Mendez of course (and apparently the jury) saw it as spying on him. On the other hand, the hotel said the camera was “supposed to protect Mendez from harassment and was approved by his union.” Its hard from the limited reports to know what was really going on, but it is quite easy to see that this was not your usual situation.

And since I have not had the chance to point it out lately, a gentle chide to the headline writer, for "Gets $3 Million". Mendez has not received anything. What he has is a jury verdict, that still needs to go through a considerable process even before it becomes a judgment in favor of him. Even then, Mendez will not "get"anything, until the end the often long appellate process. To quote my former professor Pappy Jones (again), "there is no cash register at the back of the courtroom."

Update (3.11.10): Apparently, the statement that the union approved of the camera was retracted. See this update from the Daily News.


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