28 day free trial

 

 

  

LawMemo - First in Employment Law

Home MyLawMemo About Us   Arbitration Articles

United States Supreme Court Employment Law Cases 

 

          All pending employment law cases - click here

[This is the complaint that the US Supreme Court held met the pleading requirements of Federal Rule 8.  Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A.]

 

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

AKOS SWIERKIEWICZ,
                   
Plaintiff,

          v. 

SOREMA, N.A.,
                    Defendant.
                    NO. 99 Civ. 12272 (LAP)

AMENDED COMPLAINT

Pursuant to Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, plaintiff, Akos Swierkiewicz, amends his complaint as a matter of course to state claims for relief against defendant, SOREMA, N.A., for violations of the New York State Executive Law, §296 et seq. and the Administrative Code of the City of New York, §8-107 et seq.

1 .         This is an employment discrimination action brought by Akos Swierkiewicz to recover damages against SOREMA N.A. (“SOREMA”) for the violation of his rights under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000e et. seq. (“Title VII”);  the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §621 et seq. (“ADEA”); the New York State Executive Law, §296  et. seq. (the "Human Rights Law"); and the Administrative Code of the City of New York, §8-107  et. seq. (the "City Law"). 

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

2 .         Jurisdiction over Mr. Swierkiewicz’s Title VII claim is conferred by 42 U.S.C. §2000e-5(f)(3).  Jurisdiction over his ADEA claim is conferred by 29 U.S.C. §626(c)(1).  Supplemental jurisdiction over his Human Rights Law and City Law claims is conferred by 29 U.S.C. §1367(a). 

3 .         Venue is proper in this district pursuant to the general venue statute, 28 U.S.C. §1391, and under Title VII’s special venue statute, 42 U.S.C. §2000e-5(f)(3). 

PARTIES

4 .         Plaintiff, Akos Swierkiewicz, resides at 821 Hudson Drive, Yardley, Pennsylvania 19067. 

5 .         Defendant SOREMA is a New York corporation headquartered at 199 Water Street, 20th Floor, New York, New York  10038. 

6 .         At all times relevant hereto, SOREMA has resided and conducted business in this judicial district. 

7 .         At all times relevant hereto, SOREMA has been an employer within the meaning of Title VII and the ADEA.

EXHAUSTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES

8 .         On or about July 11, 1997 Mr. Swierkiewicz filed a Charge of Discrimination against SOREMA with the Philadelphia District Office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), Charge No. 170971447, charging it with unlawful national origin and age discrimination in connection with his dismissal from employment. 

9 .         By notice dated May 3, 1999 and which he received on May 5, 1999, Mr. Swierkiewicz was notified by the EEOC of his right to file a civil action against SOREMA.

10 .       This lawsuit has been timely filed within 90 days of Mr. Swierkiewicz’s receipt of the EEOC’s right-to-sue notice. 

11 .       Pursuant to §8-502(c) of the City Law, prior to filing this Amended Complaint, plaintiff Swierkiewicz served a copy of the Amended Complaint on the City of New York Commission on Human Rights and the City of New York Corporation Counsel. 

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

12 .       Mr. Swierkiewicz is a native of Hungary. He became a United States citizen in 1970. 

13 .       Mr. Swierkiewicz is 53 years old.  His date of birth is July 25, 1946. 

14 .       SOREMA was formed in 1989.  It is a reinsurance company principally owned and controlled by a French parent corporation.  At all times relevant hereto, SOREMA’s Chief Executive Officer has been François M. Chavel, a French national. 

15 .       From 1970 to 1986, Mr. Swierkiewicz was employed by INA which after its merger in 1982 with Connecticut General, became CIGNA Insurance Company.  His last position at CIGNA was Vice President of Special Risk Facilities. 

16 .       From 1986 to 1989, Mr. Swierkiewicz was employed by SCOR U.S., a reinsurance company, as Senior Vice President for Research and Special Risks. 

17 .       On April 17, 1989 Mr. Swierkiewicz began his employment with SOREMA in the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Underwriting Officer (“CUO”).

18 .       In all respects, Mr. Swierkiewicz performed his job in a satisfactory and exemplary manner. 

19 .       Despite plaintiff’s stellar performance, in February 1995 Mr. Chavel demoted him from his CUO position to a marketing and services position and transferred the bulk of his underwriting responsibilities to another French national, Nicholas Papadopoulo, who was 32 years old at the time (and 16 years younger than plaintiff). 

20 .       Mr. Chavel demoted Mr. Swierkiewicz on account of his national origin (Hungarian) and his age (he was 49 at the time). 

21 .       A year later, in or about February 1996, Mr. Chavel formally appointed Mr. Papadopoulo as SOREMA’s CUO. 

22 .       Mr. Papadopoulo was far less experienced and less qualified to be SOREMA’s CUO than was Mr. Swierkiewicz.  Indeed, Mr. Papadopoulo had just one year of underwriting experience prior to being appointed CUO by Mr. Chavel. By contrast, plaintiff had more than 26 years of broad based experience in the insurance and reinsurance industry.

23 .       At the time Mr. Papadopoulo assumed plaintiff’s duties as CUO, Mr. Chavel stated that he wanted to “energize” the underwriting department -- clearly implying that plaintiff was too old for the job. 

24 .       In light of Mr. Papadopoulo’s inexperience, Mr. Chavel brought in Daniel Peed from SOREMA’s Houston, Texas office to support him in his CUO duties.  Mr. Peed, like Mr. Papadopoulo, was in his early 30s.  Shortly after his transfer to SOREMA’s office in New York City, Mr. Chavel promoted Mr. Peed to the position of Senior Vice President of Risk Property. 

25 .       Prior to his transfer, Mr. Peed had been a Second Vice President reporting to plaintiff. 

26 .       Not long after plaintiff’s demotion, SOREMA hired another French national, Michel Gouze, as Vice President in charge of Marketing.  Mr. Gouze, unlike plaintiff, had very little prior experience in the insurance/reinsurance business. 

27 .       Because of his inexperience, Mr. Gouze needed to rely on Mr. Swierkiewicz to perform his marketing duties for SOREMA. 

28 .       Mr. Gouze’s marketing duties at times overlapped with those of plaintiff.  Despite Mr. Swierkiewicz’s requests to better coordinate their duties, Mr. Chavel refused to accommodate those requests or to have Mr. Gouze report to plaintiff.

29 .       Mr. Swierkiewicz was isolated by Mr. Chavel following his demotion, excluded from business decisions and meetings and denied the opportunity to reach his true potential at SOREMA. 

30 .       Efforts by Mr. Swierkiewicz to meet with Mr. Chavel to resolve the unsatisfactory working conditions to which he was subjected following his demotion proved unsuccessful. 

31 .       On April 14, 1997, following two years of ongoing discrimination on account of his national origin and age, Mr. Swierkiewicz sent a memo to Mr. Chavel outlining his grievances and requesting a severance package to resolve his disputes with SOREMA. 

32 .       Mr. Chavel did not respond to Mr. Swierkiewicz’s memo. 

33 .       In the morning, on Tuesday April 29, 1997, Mr. Chavel and Daniel E. Schmidt, IV, SOREMA’s General Counsel, met with Mr. Swierkiewicz and gave him two options:  either resign his job (with no severance package) or be fired.

34 .       Mr. Swierkiewicz  refused to resign his employment with SOREMA.

35 .       As a result, he was fired by Mr. Chavel, effective that very day (April 29, 1997). 

36 .       SOREMA had no valid basis to fire Mr. Swierkiewicz. 

37 .       Plaintiff’s age and national origin were motivating factors in SOREMA’s decision to terminate his employment. 

38 .       Unlike plaintiff who was fired without cause and without any severance pay or benefits, SOREMA has provided generous severance packages to a number of former executives for whom it had cause to terminate their employment.  These include, but are not limited to, the following individuals:  Jay Kubinak, Thilo Herda, Douglas Zale, Nigel Harley and Marcus Corbally. 

39 .       As a direct and proximate cause of his being fired by SOREMA, Mr. Swierkiewicz has suffered and will continue to suffer a substantial loss of earnings to which he otherwise would have been entitled.  This includes, but is not limited to, the loss of his salary, bonus, automobile allowance and pension credits as well as the loss of his medical and dental insurance, life insurance, short and long term disability insurance and the insurance he had for accidental death and dismemberment. 

40 .       As a further direct and proximate cause of his being fired by SOREMA, Mr. Swierkiewicz has suffered damage to his reputation and harm to his career.  He has also experienced physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and the loss of enjoyment of life’s pleasures.

41 .       SOREMA acted willfully and in reckless disregard of Mr. Swierkiewicz’s rights under Title VII and the ADEA by discharging him from employment on account of his age and national origin. 

STATEMENT OF CLAIMS

COUNT I:    VIOLATION OF TITLE VII

42 .       Mr. Swierkiewicz repeats and incorporates by reference the allegations of paragraphs 1 - 41 of the Amended Complaint as if they were set forth in full. 

43 .       SOREMA terminated Mr. Swierkiewicz’s employment on account of his national origin and thereby violated his right to equal employment opportunity as protected by Title VII. 

COUNT II:     VIOLATION OF THE ADEA

44 .       Mr. Swierkiewicz repeats and incorporates by reference the allegations of paragraphs 1 - 43 of the Amended Complaint as if they were set forth in full. 

45 .       SOREMA terminated Mr. Swierkiewicz’s employment on account of his age and thereby violated his right to equal employment opportunity as protected by the ADEA. 

COUNT III:  VIOLATION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS LAW

46 .       Mr. Swierkiewicz repeats and incorporates by reference the allegations of paragraph 1 - 45 of the Amended Complaint as if they were set forth in full.

47 .       Sorema terminated Mr. Swierkiewicz’s employment on account of his national origin and/or age in violation of his right to equal employment opportunity as protected by the Human Rights Law, §296  et. seq.

COUNT IV:  VIOLATION OF THE CITY LAW

48 .       Mr. Swierkiewicz repeats and incorporates by reference the allegations of paragraphs 1 - 47 of the Amended Complaint as if they were set forth in full. 

49 .       Sorema terminated Mr. Swierkiewicz’s employment on account of his national origin and/or age in violation of his right to equal employment opportunity as protected by the City Law, §8-107  et. seq.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Mr. Swierkiewicz respectfully requests the Court to enter judgment in his favor and against SOREMA, and to accord him the following relief: 

( a )       Back pay with prejudgment interest and all the fringe benefits to which he is entitled;

( b )       Front pay and benefits to the extent reinstatement is not feasible;

( c )        Compensatory damages for his non-economic injuries in an amount authorized by Title VII and by the Human Rights Law and the City Law;

( d )       Punitive damages to punish and deter SOREMA from future acts of employment discrimination in an amount authorized by Title VII and the City Law;

( e )       Liquidated damages in an amount equal to twice Mr. Swierkiewicz’s back pay losses as authorized by the ADEA;

( f )         An award of reasonable counsel fees and costs to compensate Mr. Swierkiewicz for having to prosecute this action against SOREMA; and

( g )       Such other legal and equitable relief or may be just and proper under the circumstances. 

JURY DEMAND

Mr. Swierkiewicz demands a trial by jury on all the issues in this action that are triable by law.             

Respectfully submitted,


 

 

Harold I. Goodman, Esquire   (HG 4895)
Raynes, McCarty, Binder, Ross & Mundy
1845 Walnut Street, 20th Floor
Philadelphia, PA  19103
(215)568-6190

 

 

 

 

 

ANNE L. CLARK, ESQUIRE  (AC 6456)
Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C.
1501 Broadway, Suite 800
New York, NY  10036
(212)403‑7332             

Counsel for Plaintiff,
   
                                                                     Akos Swierkiewicz

Home | MyLawMemo | Custom Alerts | Newest Cases | Key Word Search  
Employment Law Memo | EEOC Info | NLRB Info | Arbitration | Articles | Law Firms | Site Map 

 

Get your 28 day trial now 

 
LawMemo, Inc.
Post Office Box 8173 Portland, OR 97207
Phone: 877 399-8028