HR Strange But True

A ‘Vampire’ in the Workplace Stokes Discrimination Lawsuit

This sounds so high school! An employee recently filed suit in an Illinois federal court because his coworkers teased and ridiculed him because he had an accent, saying he looked and sounded like a vampire. What makes this story strange is that the employee is a securities broker and so are his coworkers.

According to a story by Jack Bouboushian of the Courthouse News Service, the plaintiff, a United States citizen, was the only foreign-born salesperson in a securities company’s Chicago office, having been born in Hungary.

After some time at the company, new colleagues thought his slight foreign accent reminded them of Bela Lugosi in the Dracula movies, so some began calling him “The Count.”

Then pictures of vampires and bats began appearing on his cubicle walls. According to the article, management removed them but did not investigate the incidents or discipline anyone.

During this time, the employee developed a brain tumor that caused seizures and required him to take medication that made him drowsy. Not only did his coworkers take advantage of the situation by taking photos and videos of him sleeping at work and posting them, but a supervisor reportedly yelled at him in front of others to wake him up.

His request for a disability leave and accommodations was reportedly denied.

Some colleagues even tried to “poach” his clients, says the article. When he complained to the company, a major account was taken away from him. He was later fired and replaced by a salesman 18 years younger.

Not surprisingly, the employee filed suit in district court for disability discrimination, national origin discrimination, and age discrimination (he is in his 50s).

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