Employment/Labor/Wage-Hour Class Actions
Since 2001, Ms. Viera has mediated significant numbers of employment matters to resolution in both federal and state court. She regularly mediates employment discrimination matters, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour matters (including class actions), leave claims, wrongful termination, whistle blower and PAGA claims. Select illustrative cases are listed below:
Sex Harassment: Food server claimed she was sexually harassed by her restaurant manager and, after complaining, she was harassed and retaliated against by the owner and his wife; restaurant claimed manager who touched plaintiff was her former boyfriend and casual encounter was documented on video footage which showed her lack of reaction
Sex Discrimination: Plaintiff alleged discrimination, retaliation and failure to investigate her original gender claims. Employer alleged that employee had ongoing performance issues involving unprofessional and confrontational communications unrelated to gender.
Race/Religion: African American union employee claimed wrongful termination, race discrimination/harassment and religious discrimination (Muslim) due to termination of employment after complaint about hostile work environment based on race, including a noose hanging from a crane, managers using the n-word and religious-based slurs such as “raghead.” Claimed his Mexican supervisor called him “cabron” (bastard) and treated him worse than the Mexican employees in his unit. Employer claimed that former employee was laid off due to lack of seniority, as well as poor performance and disregard for safety regulations which was unrelated to race or religion.
Wrongful Termination/National Origin: Employee was terminated for violation of company policy regarding proper method to respond to theft in a store; employee alleged wrongful termination and discrimination based on national origin due to differential treatment
Retaliation/Wrongful Termination: Plaintiff delivery manager filed complaint with DLSE for failure to pay him a bonus and was terminated two months later; defendant stated it terminated plaintiff for ongoing performance issues and his failure to correct his substandard performance despite repeated opportunities to do so
Disability/Wrongful Discharge: Plaintiff nurse alleged wrongful termination due to use of workers’ compensation leave to recover from back injury and failure to accommodate her disability, diabetes; defendant stated plaintiff was laid off as she lacked seniority compared to others and plaintiff could not perform the essential duties of her job when no light duty was available
Retaliation: Security guard scheduler refused to assign male guards when client company requested male rather than female guards on their property; scheduler filed internal claim regarding gender discrimination, and soon thereafter, he was demoted and eventually terminated; company stated he had long-term performance issues
Disability/Wrongful Termination: Plaintiff nurse alleged she was terminated due to her disability, edema; defendant stated it terminated plaintiff due to her ongoing attendance
Sexual Harassment: Female employee became romantically involved with car dealership owner’s son at workplace; after break up, employee claimed sex harassment by son; owner/father settled the case in mediation
CFRA Leave/Retaliation/Wrongful Termination: Employer terminated Plaintiff for poor performance; Plaintiff alleged Employer interfered with his ability to take parental leave, failed to notify him of his right to CFRA leave after the birth of his baby, and wrongfully terminated him
Interference with FMLA Rights: Employee claimed that she was terminated because she took FMLA leave. Nonprofit employer claimed employee was terminated for violation of the employer’s policies and for poor performance which was discovered during the employee’s leave.
Gender Discrimination: Employees complained about new supervisor talking to them disrespectfully, disciplining them harshly and not addressing their concerns; supervisors alleged that employees were not performing properly and were treating supervisor equally disrespectfully
Interference with FMLA Rights, FMLA Discrimination, Wrongful Discharge and Defamation: Employee alleged she was terminated in retaliation for having made complaints about clients who made racially offensive statements. Employee also alleged Employer interfered with her rights to FMLA leave as she was terminated immediately after her return from leave. Employer alleged that Employee engaged in fraud and deceit and was terminated justifiably.
Race Harassment/Discrimination/Wrongful Termination: Plaintiff alleged she was terminated wrongfully after being harassed and discriminated against based on her race, when her manager made comments about rap music and humiliated plaintiff while treating her differently than her peers; employer alleged plaintiff did not demonstrate the honesty, integrity and ethical conduct required of her position and thus it terminated her
Wage/Hour: Small bakery employer paid Plaintiff employee in cash; Plaintiff claimed failure to pay overtime, meal breaks and minimum wage among other claims; employer claimed plaintiff was discharged for poor performance
Wage/Hour: Restaurant employees filed claim for unpaid wages due to continual, interrupted meal breaks, no rest periods, no overtime payments and unreimbursed uniform costs; restaurant owners stated they paid employees in cash and always gave breaks as required
Leave/Termination: Police officer was accommodated with unpaid leave, once paid leave was exhausted, but did not return to work; the City eventually terminated officer who did not return after receiving Qualified Medical Evaluator’s reports allowing officer to return to work
Race/Skin Color Harassment: District Manager allegedly called salesman derogatory names including the n-word, monkey, thug, and ghetto; company terminated salesman after harassing him into confessing that he stole product from the stores; Manager was ultimately terminated for stealing merchandise also; salesman claimed wrongful termination and harassment
Race Discrimination: On-call nursing assistant claimed discrimination when he was forced to resign after he refused to meet with supervisors to discuss medication errors
Independent Contractor/Right of Fair Procedure: Agency serving juveniles did not renew independent contractor’s expired contract and he claimed a breach of the common law right of fair procedure and discrimination based on paternity leave
School/Retaliation in Violation of Public Policy: School superintendent resigned/was terminated after disagreement with Board regarding hiring decision; school district denied him lifetime benefits outlined in his employment contract
Ms. Viera regularly mediates and helps resolve landlord-tenant cases, housing discrimination and public nuisance matters in both federal and state court. Select illustrative cases are listed below:
Landlord attempted to evict tenants; when tenants refused to vacate unit due to improper eviction notices, landlord left notes and voicemail messages threatening to report tenants to immigration, the IRS and the police
Landlord’s property managers filed notices of termination of tenancy for various violations of the lease including, failure to pay rent, exceeding contractual occupancy and nuisance health/safety violations. Plaintiff alleged housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act in addition to negligence and breach of the warranty of quiet enjoyment because property managers allegedly harassed and sexually propositioned female, Spanish-speaking tenants. Multi-party case.
The city alleged that the property owner was using his large property for purposes that were not compliant with local ordinances related to safety and access. The property owner claimed that his property was unique, and his listing on Airbnb-type sites was appropriate as he was exercising his ownership rights in a safe manner.
Public Nuisance/Red Light Abatement/Sex Trafficking: The city claimed that a massage parlor was a public nuisance and a “cover” for offering women who engaged in illicit sex acts. The massage parlor argued that if such activity was ongoing, the women were adults and the engagements were consensual. The property owner argued that he had no knowledge of any inappropriate activity occurring on its property.
Homeowner lost job and large bank gave temporary forbearance to avoid foreclosing on his home; house was sold and bank eventually began eviction proceedings against homeowner; homeowner failed to provide adequate documentation in attempt to unwind the foreclosure sale, and filed wrongful foreclosure, breach of contract, fraud and negligence action against bank
Public Nuisance/Red Light Abatement/Sex Trafficking: The city alleged that a Health and Wellness Center was being used to traffic women/girls who offered sexual favors. The Center argued that if such activity was ongoing, the women of age and engaged only in consensual activities. The property owner argued it had contracted the building to a distinguished chiropractor as a clinic. Once property owner received the Notice to Abate, she attempted to evict the tenant for nuisance and other claims, and thus claimed she should not be subject to monetary penalties.
Since 2001, Ms. Viera has successfully mediated many business, contract (oral and written), BP 17200, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, misrepresentation, shareholder disputes and partnership dissolution matters in corporations and non-profits. Select illustrative cases are listed below:
Former employee loaned money to owner and to employer; business then went bankrupt and failed to pay employee back for loans; employee claimed breach of oral contract; employer claimed loans had been made to business, not owner personally, and business was now defunct
Two long-term business associates started a company together, with a verbal agreement as to how to split ownership and profit-sharing; prior to formalizing their agreement in writing, new partners were brought on and disagreement developed around payment of commissions/salary/dividends; one partner filed a claim against the other for wrongful termination based on disability and breach of contract, among other claims
Company filed lawsuit against its former owner and employee claiming he had stolen clients for his new business in violation of his contract; former owner/employee was alleged to have destroyed documents to avoid his scheme being discovered; owner/employee threatened malicious prosecution claims against former company and denied breach of contract or confidentiality to former company, along with denying intentional interference with contract and BP 17200
Plaintiff loaned partnership $150,000 and brief, handwritten loan agreement was signed; partnership lost money and only paid plaintiff $10,000 while seeking to delay repayment of remaining amount; plaintiff waited, then finally filed suit but statute of limitations had run, so he asserted the doctrine of estoppel
Businessman buyer bought cargo truck from seller company “as is,” but seller indicated it would fix mechanical issues prior to delivery at no cost to buyer; issues were not fixed and buyer filed claims for breach of contract/misrepresentation
Two long-term friends started a consulting business together; after some years of success, conflicts arose and one partner wanted the other to buy him out; they negotiated a friendly settlement for a buyout, with various provisions for continuing support which guaranteed the long-term success of the business and of the former partner
Americans with Disabilities/ADA Access
Ms. Viera has mediated a significant number of ADA failure to accommodate and access cases, including:
Visually-impaired plaintiff was unable to access multiple restaurants, claiming violations of the ADA; small restaurant owners agreed to bring their restaurant into compliance by removing barriers identified in the joint site inspection report
Quadriplegic customer was prohibited from entering hotel premises by stairs and lack of ramp; similarly, internal barriers inside the hotel were not ADA-compliant, including restrooms, door handles and counter heights; owner alleged that certain alterations were not readily achievable given various structural issues with building
Physically-disabled plaintiffs could not enter bakery due to barriers, including lack of accessible route, door handles and parking spaces; bakery owners represented that all alterations requested were not readily-achievable, but were willing to make some physical alterations
Visually-impaired plaintiff alleged physical barriers at Korean BBQ restaurant; owners agreed to bring restaurant into compliance based on all barriers implicated due to plaintiff’s disability, but objected to those demands not associated with her specific impairment
Ms. Viera mediates all kinds of disputes which involve Spanish-speakers, including employment, business and family disputes. Sometimes, the entire mediation is held in Spanish, while at other times, she speaks Spanish with one of the parties and English with the others. Recent cases include:
Breach of Contract: One friend loaned the other money to buy a car; friend was never paid back and filed suit claiming breach of oral contract
Sex Harassment: Latina food server claimed she was sexually harassed by her restaurant manager and, after complaining, she was harassed and retaliated against by the owner and his wife; restaurant claimed manager who touched plaintiff was her former boyfriend and casual encounter was documented on video footage which showed her lack of reaction
Breach Contract/Intentional Misrepresentation: Mexican Businessman buyer bought cargo truck from seller company “as is,” but seller indicated it would fix mechanical issues prior to delivery at no cost to buyer; issues were not fixed and buyer filed claims for breach of contract/misrepresentation
Ms. Viera mediates disputes in workplaces, among whole departments or between employees prior to litigation being filed. Select illustrative cases are listed below:
A divided department at a university had ceased to function effectively and, through mediation, gained great clarity on where/why they differed and how best to bridge those differences to honor their commitments to their students and restore their work environment so that all could thrive
A governmental department received a new supervisor and, within a short time, some employees lodged an internal complaint against her; supervisor received coaching, but relationships were damaged by past conduct of both employees and supervisor; upper management, supervisor and all employees in department mediated to restore functional working relationships and re-establish trust
Two co-workers on non-profit management team argued publicly; in mediation, they resolved their differences, aligned themselves to benefit the organization’s mission and re-established their work relationship and friendship
An employee and a manager were at odds over their joint involvement in various projects; they mediated to salvage their work relationship
Entire management team was dysfunctional in how it made decisions and in how certain conduct went unchallenged which created problems for all; management team met, in whole and in part, and successfully resolved their issues such that they returned to being a fully-functioning team at work
A supervisor and her employee filed complaints of harassment and workplace violence against each other; in mediation, they established trust in each other, worked through past conflicts and ended with future communication agreements to support their fully-functioning work relationship with each other
University department received controversial appointment of former faculty member who had left after great conflict that divided the department; in mediation, understanding was gained through discussion of departmental and individual values, agreements were made regarding future responsibilities and the faculty member’s transition back was ultimately smooth
Supervisors and employees in a union environment were at odds regarding job tasks, division of responsibilities and implementation of projects; the group met together and separately to work through issues of communication and clarify roles and responsibilities