Jack Lee, Sean Tamura-Sato Settle Discrimination Cases

seanMinami Tamaki LLP partner Jack Lee and associate Sean Tamura-Sato negotiated a $160,000 settlement at mediation for a Fremont, Calif., woman laid off in a reduction in force, but who suspected discrimination on the basis of her national origin and age. The client (name withheld), a 51-year-old Chinese American, was employed by a multinational technology company in its Cupertino office.

Initially hired as a temporary employee, she rose to the position of Finance Manager during a 30-year career with the company. Despite receiving glowing performance evaluations for decades, the client consistently received a lower salary and bonuses than comparable non-Chinese employees.

Further investigation revealed a pattern and practice of discriminatory action against Chinese American employees. The employer informed the client in December 2007 that that she was being laid off as part of an upcoming merger. The company refused to consider her for reassignment to other positions, instead awarding them to less qualified non-Chinese employees and employees under the age of 40.

A review of the company’s layoff notice revealed evidence that the client was selected for layoff based on her national origin and age.

In another case, a Palo Alto, Calif., woman represented by Lee and Tamura-Sato received a $120,000 settlement in a case where the client was part of a mass company layoff. The woman alleged discrimination on the basis of age, marital status, and family responsibility discrimination, a new and emerging field in employment discrimination law.

The client, age 41, was an internal controls manager in the Santa Clara office of a global technology corporation. She received excellent performance evaluations throughout her 12 years with the company, while also earning her CPA and raising her young children.

In March 2008, the client was harassed for taking vacation days during her children’s spring break. Her supervisor singled her out for this treatment despite the client having followed all company vacation policies.

Soon after this incident, the client was selected for layoff as part of an internal reorganization. All employees promoted to management positions within the new group were unmarried and had no children. Further, all managers age 40 or above were laid off or demoted as a result of this reorganization.

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