Los Angeles, California (July 21, 2015) – As per Law 360, Rite Aid is out of $8.7 million for wrongful termination and disability discrimination, due to the harassment and subsequent firing of a heroic store manager.
By anyone’s account, former Rite Aid store manager Robert Leggins was an exemplary employee. He had been steadily employed by Rite Aid since 1985. He fought off a man attempting to rob the Rite Aid store he was managing in 2007 and his neck was seriously injured by the criminal. If anything, many workers would not have chosen to go back to work after that and would instead have consulted a lawyer to help file a disability case. However, Mr. Leggins persevered and came back to work as soon as he was able.
Unfortunately, after that, things changed for Robert Leggins.
Although anyone would think he would be lauded as a hero for defending his store, his managers and supervisors turned against him. Perhaps it was the time off he needed for several surgeries immediately after the robbery. Perhaps it was the fact that, due to his injuries, he was no longer able to do heavy work. Whatever the case, after he was injured in that incident, Mr. Leggins became a pariah in his workplace. When he asked them to give him lighter work to do in order to accommodate the injuries he sustained while trying to protect a Rite Aid store from a criminal, his supervisors and managers gave him even heavier work and accused him of being a malingerer. His most recent direct supervisor cruelly forced him to perform physically challenging tasks when he knew Mr. Leggins was in a lot of pain. The harassment even spread to his coworkers, who taunted him with racial slurs at work and when he complained to management, his concerns were ignored and he was further harassed.
Mr. Leggins valiantly kept working steadily for Rite Aid until 2013, hoping someday that one of his multiple requests to be transferred to a different store would finally be approved. On New Year’s Day 2013, Rite Aid found something to suspend and then fire him for. The incident that led to his firing is as follows: Mr. Leggins closed his store at 5:30 p.m., as the custom was to closed early on New Year’s Day for years. Rite Aid said the early closing was against store policy, but Leggins claimed he’d also gotten permission to do so two months prior, making sure the policy would still be in effect. He was fired a month after the incident. Then Mr. Leggins knew it was time to consult an attorney.
But, thanks to the help of an employment lawyer who knew the ins and out of employment law, Mr. Leggins got the last laugh. Rite Aid rolled the dice but lost big to the tune of $8.7 million dollars ($3.7 million for lost wages and other losses, plus $5 million in punitive damages). Mr. Leggins won his lawsuit (Robert Leggins v. Rite Aid Corporation, et al., No. BC511139, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.) against Rite Aid for wrongful termination and disability discrimination. The jurors unanimously ruled in his favor on all counts.