Bank of America, N.A. – National Origin Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Unlawful Employment, Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), Florida Civil Rights Act.

Bank of America, N.A. – National Origin Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Unlawful Employment, Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), Florida Civil Rights Act.

National origin discriminationIN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA

REBECCA SOTO,

Plaintiff,

v. CASE NO.:

BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.

Defendant.
_________________________________ /

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff, REBECCA SOTO (hereinafter “SOTO”), by and through her undersigned counsel, sues Defendant, BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., and alleges as follows:
1. This is an action for damages that exceed $15,000.00, exclusive of costs, interest, and attorney’s fees.
2. The unlawful employment practices alleged below were committed within Brevard County, Florida.
3. Plaintiff resides in Brevard County, Florida, and has at all times material herein, resided in Brevard County, Florida.
4. Defendant, BANK OF AMERICA, N.A. is a foreign corporation doing business in Brevard County, Florida and at the time of the acts complained of herein, employed 15 or more persons.
5. Plaintiff Soto is a Hispanic female of Puerto Rican decent.

6. Plaintiff has retained the undersigned attorney and agreed to pay a
reasonable fee.
7. On or about November 11, 2002, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (attached hereto as Exhibit “A”) alleging discrimination based on national origin and retaliation.
8. Plaintiff’s Charge of Discrimination was prepared by the Orlando Human Relations Department and was forwarded to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
9. Pursuant to the Work Share Agreement between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Florida Commission on Human Relations, Plaintiff’s charge of discrimination was dual-filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations when she filed her charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
10. More than one hundred eighty (180) days have passed since Plaintiff’s initial Charge of Discrimination was dual-filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, and the Florida Commission on Human Relations has not entered a determination on Plaintiff’s claim.
11. Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies prior to bringing this action.
12. Plaintiff has complied with all conditions precedent prior to bringing this action.

13. At all times, Plaintiff performed all of the duties assigned to her in a professionally competent manner, faithfully followed all reasonable instructions given to her by her supervisors, and abided by all the rules and regulations of Defendant.
14. Plaintiff was employed by Defendant and it’s predecessors from approximately September 24, 1984 until March 6, 2003.
15. In the fall of 1995 Plaintiff was employed as Sales and Service Manager with Defendant but stepped down to a Senior Personal Banker position in the fall of 1995 when she moved from Orlando to Brevard County so that she could transfer.
16. From approximately 1999 to October 2002 Plaintiff made numerous requests to be promoted and placed in Defendant’s Branch Manager in training “MAPS” program. Plaintiff was not placed in the “MAPS” program and those who were placed in the “MAPS” program were not Hispanic and were less qualified and had less experience than Plaintiff, who is Hispanic.
17. Plaintiff had received an annual raise each year she worked with Defendant until she made a request to enter the “MAPS” program. After making a request to enter the “MAPS” program Plaintiff either did not receive an annual raise or only received a minimal raise in comparison to her previous annual increases.
18. A Caucasian female who was employed as a Senior Personal Banker with Defendant for only four (4) years and previously worked in a retail store made a higher yearly salary than Plaintiff, who had nineteen (19) years of banking and management experience and was also a Senior Personal Banker.
19. In November 2001, Plaintiff and a white female co-worker, who was also a personal banker, both made complaints to the Regional Manager regarding ethical violations they felt were being made by the Customer Service Manager. After this report was made, new customers were directed to the Caucasian female co-worker instead of Plaintiff. Additionally other employees would open new accounts and would give credit for the new account to the Caucasian female co-worker by signing in the computer with the Caucasian female’s password.
20. In August 2002, Plaintiff met with the Regional Manager about the discrimination she was receiving regarding the fact that many of the customers she would normally help were either being assigned to her Caucasian co-worker or were being signed up by other employees under the Caucasian female co-worker’s password. The Regional Manager informed Plaintiff during their meeting that it would be hard for her since she had made this complaint.
21. In September 2002, all employees in the Defendant’s Lake Washington office had their computer passwords changed so they could not give credit for customers to other employees. However, customers were still directed away from Plaintiff to her Caucasian female co-worker.
22. On or about November 11, 2002, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations alleging discrimination based on national origin and retaliation.
23. Within approximately one month of filing a Charge of Discrimination, Defendant began to discipline Plaintiff without due cause. On December 5, 2002, Plaintiff was issued a written counseling regarding security and policy procedure violations. Other employees who had made similar procedural violations were not written up. On December 23, 2002, Plaintiff was issued a substandard performance appraisal.
24. Also in December 2002, the branch manager called Plaintiff into her office and counseled Plaintiff regarding her concern that Plaintiff was making personal calls when she spoke Spanish on the phone. However, Plaintiff had Hispanic customers from all over the world that she spoke to on the telephone in Spanish and had even been provided a calling card by the bank to call the international clients.
25. Plaintiff was given a written counseling regarding her performance on February 21, 2003, which was dated January 15, 2003. However, Plaintiff’s performance was not as high as usual due to the fact that customers were being routed to her Caucasian female co-worker and away from Plaintiff, who is Hispanic.
26. On or about March 6, 2003, approximately four months after filing her discrimination and retaliation claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Plaintiff was terminated by Defendant from her position as a Senior Personal Banker at the Lake Washington Branch of Bank of America.

COUNT I
NATIONAL ORIGIN DISCRIMINATION
27. This is an action for damages for national origin discrimination in violation of Chapter 760, Florida Statutes, The Florida Civil Rights Act.
28. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates Paragraphs 1 through 26 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
29. Defendant violated the provisions of Section 760.10(1), Florida Statutes, which makes it unlawful for an employer to discharge or fail or refuse to hire any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s national origin.
30. As a result of national origin discrimination perpetrated by Defendant against Plaintiff, Plaintiff has sustained lost income and suffered emotional damages in the form of severe mental anguish, emotional distress and loss of dignity, and was also terminated from her position by Defendant.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including, but not limited to:
A. Judgement for back pay, front pay, expenses incurred by Plaintiff in her job search, and loss of benefits, including, but not limited to, all money paid for health benefits, loss of vacation entitlement, loss of stock
options and loss of retirement benefits;
B. Compensatory damages including, but not limited to, mental anguish, loss of dignity and other intangible injuries;
C. Punitive damages;
D. An award of reasonable attorney’s fees and all costs incurred herein; and
E. All other damages to which Plaintiff may be entitled.

COUNT II- RETALIATION
31. This is an action for damages for retaliation in violation of Chapter 760, Florida Statutes, The Florida Civil Rights Act.
32. Plaintiff realleges and incorporates paragraphs 1 through 26 of this Complaint as if set forth in full herein.
33. Subsequent to Plaintiff making an internal complaint of national origin discrimination to Defendant and because Plaintiff made an internal complaint of national origin discrimination, Plaintiff experienced retaliation by Defendant.
34. Subsequent to Plaintiff filing a charge of national origin discrimination and retaliation by Defendant to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Florida Commission on Human Relations and because Plaintiff made a charge of national origin discrimination and retaliation to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Florida Commission on Human Relations, Plaintiff has continued to experience retaliatory acts by Defendant including termination.
35. The acts alleged in this Complaint constitute a violation of Section 760.10(7), Florida Statutes, “It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer…to discriminate against any person because that person has opposed any practice which is an unlawful employment practice under this section, or because that person has made a charge, testified, assisted in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this section.”
36. As a result of retaliation perpetrated by Defendant against Plaintiff has sustained lost income and suffered emotional damages in the form of severe mental anguish, emotional distress and loss of dignity, and was terminated from her position by Defendant.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including, but not limited to:
A. Judgement for back pay, front pay, expenses incurred by Plaintiff in her job search, and loss of benefits, including, but not limited to, all money paid for health benefits, loss of vacation entitlement, loss of stock
options and loss of retirement benefits;
B. Compensatory damages including, but not limited to, mental anguish, loss of dignity and other intangible injuries;
C. Punitive damages;
D. An award of reasonable attorney’s fees and all costs incurred herein; and
E. All other damages to which Plaintiff may be entitled.

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff demands a jury trial on all issues herein triable by jury.

DATED this _____day of September 2003.

Wayne L. Allen, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 110025
Adrienne E. Trent, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 0060119
Wayne L. Allen & Associates, P.A.
Attorneys for Plaintiff
700 N. Wickham Road, Suite 107
Melbourne, Florida 32935
Phone: (321) 254-7550
Fax: (321) 242-1681

Attorney: Maurice Arcadier
Status: Closed
Date Filed: 09/05/03

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