DISABILITY AND AGE DISCRIMINATION CASE FILED AGAINST CABLEVISION NOW ALTICE
We filed a Disability and Age Discrimination Lawsuit Against CABLEVISION, now ALTICE, on behalf a 50-year-old client who worked for CABLEVISION for 15 years and was fired after returning from a Gallbladder operation, and replaced with someone one-half (1/2) of her age. The complaint (as amended) makes some of the following allegations:
50-year-old employee’s termination after 15 years of labor and replaced with 26-year-old
- Plaintiff is a female and age fifty (50) at the time of her termination.
- Plaintiff commenced employment with CABLEVISION on or about May 1, 2000, more than fifteen (15) years ago as a customer service representative.
- On May 18, 2015, plaintiff took leave from her employment with CABLEVISION to undergo a bladder operation (surgery). Plaintiff returned to work approximately two (2) months later on July 13, 2015. However, she was fired on August 5, 2015, just three (3) weeks later. Plaintiff learned CABLEVISION replaced her with someone age 26 and less salary and benefits.
- In firing the plaintiff, CABLEVISION did not have to pay more disability benefits, or even any retirement income to the plaintiff. In addition, CABLEVISION not only didn’t pay the plaintiff any severance pay for her 15 year of labor, but OPPOSED her application for employment benefits. That is, CABLEVISION attempted to deprive plaintiff of ANY INCOME which was lost because of CABLEVISION’s firing the plaintiff.
Excuse Provided for Plaintiff’s Termination
- In employment litigation, it is the norm for an employer to hide the true treason for termination (disability, age, etc.) by pointing to some other reason, which, if true, would be an acceptable reason for termination, such as a violation of a company policy. For instance, an employer terminates a black employee for always arriving late (in violation of company policy) – a valid reason. But if the employer remains silent while a white employee arrives late to work every day without any consequences, that would constitute discriminatory application of company policy, and thus employment discrimination.
- In this case, as an excuse for the plaintiff’s termination, CABLEVISION claimed that it did not fire the plaintiff because of her disability or age, but because plaintiff failed to remove her ex-husband as a beneficiary on the company provided health insurance benefits.
- CABLEVISION claimed that it conducted a company-wide “Dependent Eligibility Verification Audit in 2015 and “discovered” in March 2015 that plaintiff’s ex-husband remained on the plaintiff’s health insurance policy as a “beneficiary” for about a 1 and ½ year following her divorce. This is not only false, but one of the worst excuse provided firing a long-term employee.
Purpose for Dependent Eligibility Verification Audit is to reduce health Care Costs, not to fire employees.
- It is a fact that companies often face higher health care costs for older workers than for younger workers. Almost all for-profit corporate companies seek to reduce health care costs and increase profit. Discrimination laws prevent companies from terminating older workers simply to reduce health care costs. Thus, many employers seeking to get rid of older workers often use another reason for termination, other than age or disability. In this case, CABLEVISION used its ““Dependent Eligibility Verification Audit.”
- However, in this case, it so happens that the long-term plaintiff notified CABLEVISION of her divorce on October 10, 2013, in addition to her name change and application for new social security number, more than a year before CABLEVISION’s so-called audit began, and ONCE AGAIN in March 2015 during CABLEVISION’s 2015 audit. But according to the plaintiff, CABLEVISION did not want to hear all that, as the decision was already made to terminate her, irrespective of her innocence.
- CABLEVISION went further than just failure to remove her ex-husband following the divorce. They claimed that because of plaintiff’s “falsification” CABLEVISION “paid” claims made by the ex-husband. However, this accusation was false and fabricated by CABLEVISION as CABLEVISION supplied no documents to prove this appalling accusation
- If that was true, then that would be a valid ground for termination, as that would constitute insurance fraud. However, that accusation, according to the plaintiff, was manufactured and fabricated by human resources managers STEPHANY DALTON and EARNEST PASTOR on behalf of CABLEVISION to further “justify” an illegal termination (as alleged in the complaint).
- The purpose of Dependent Eligibility Verification Audit is to eliminate unnecessary costs and waste within a company’s health plan. If an audit uncovers a dependent of an employee who is not eligible to be covered under that’s employee’s company provided health insurance plan, the ineligible beneficiary is simply removed from the insurance plan, thus saving the company in having to pay any unnecessary health care costs.
- It is a basic fact that many people simply forget to contact their human resources to remove an ex-spouse following a divorce until the need to do so is pointed out to them. Many people failed to do so not to defraud their employer, but they simply forget. This is quite different when an employee with fraudulent intent enroll a person as a beneficiary knowing that it is fraudulent to do so, as for example, enrolling a nephew or niece unless adopted children.
- Individuals with knowledge of these types of audits provide the following advice:
“Most employees who add an ineligible dependent do so unwittingly……Very few employees are being malicious,”… “It really is a lack of understanding of an eligible dependent.
“If an employee is unable to establish a dependent relationship, the employer may impose penalties, terminate coverage or seek reimbursement for claims paid for ineligible dependents. It is not typical for employers to seek out disciplinary action as a result of the initial audit.”
New Jersey’s Department of Labor Appeals Tribunal Rejected Cablevision’s Excuse for Termination.
- The purpose of unemployment insurance benefits is to alleviate personal hardships a worker faces as a result of a job loss. A company that opposes these applications often do to save on the costs of their contribution to a state’s unemployment fund, and/or reinforce their “cause” for termination.
- In this case, CABLEVISION opposed plaintiff’s application for unemployment benefits.
- In a hearing before the Department of Labor’s Appeal Tribunal, CABLEVISION’s Human Resources Manager, STEPHANY DALTON testified under oath that Plaintiff (1) “enrolled an ineligible dependent under the company benefit plan, and when we conducted an audit, -plaintiff] admitted that she falsely covered an ineligible dependent” and (2) “falsified company records by concealing her marital status of being divorced from her ex-husband to illegitimately provide benefits to the… ex-husband.”
- However, DALTON’s testimony was fabricated and unsupported by any facts, document or even reality (according to the plaintiff’s lawsuit), and the Unemployment Appeals Tribunal, issued the following findings and conclusion (in relevant parts):
- The claimant had been employed full time with the above-named employer as a customer service representative from May of 2000 until 08/04/15 at which time she was discharged from the employment for allegedly falsifying company records. The employer discharged the claimant for the aforementioned allegation only. It was alleged by the employer in 2015 that the claimant had falsified records by allegedly concealing her marital status of being then divorced from her ex-husband to illegitimately provide benefits to the ex-husband. However, the claimant did not conceal her divorce status from the above-named employer. In early 2015 the above-named employer instructed its employees to provide verifications of its dependents whom were afforded or were eligible to receive benefits through its employees’ employment. On 03/26/15, the claimant sent a facsimile to the employer containing her dependent child verification form; the claimant also sent court papers memorializing her divorce from her ex-husband in the facsimile sent on 03/26/15 to 201 6337381. The claimant did not falsify company records, nor conspired to conceal her divorce status with her ex-husband from the above-named employer.
- Although the Tribunal intended to complete the hearing with both parties, namely the claimant and the employer with its representative, following the submittal of the claimant’s documents to the Tribunal, the employer’s representative defaulted on the continuation portion of the hearing for reasons unknown to the Tribunal.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) makes it illegal for any employer to discriminate against any employee in the terms and conditions of that employee’s employment including hiring, promotion, discipline, etc. It is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for to take leave to undergo a covered medical condition.
The plaintiff in this case seeks other former CABLEVISION employees who were fired or disciplined for similar reasons.