Harbor Florida Bancshares, Inc – Age Discrimination, the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Harbor Florida Bancshares, Inc – Age Discrimination, the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

legalIN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT IN AND FOR BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA

SHARON L. DONDIEGO,

PLAINTIFF,

v. Case No.: _______________________

HARBOR FLORIDA BANCSHARES, INC.
d/b/a HARBOR FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK,

DEFENDANT.
________________________________/

COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff, SHARON L. DONDIEGO, by and through her undersigned attorney, sues Defendant, HARBOR FLORIDA BANCSHARES, INC. d/b/a HARBOR FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK, and alleges as follows:
1. This action is brought to obtain relief pursuant to Florida Statutes, Chapter 760 for discrimination committed by Defendant against Plaintiff on the basis of Plaintiff’s age.
2. This is an action for damages in excess of Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000), exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney fees.
3. The unlawful practices alleged below were committed in Brevard County, Florida.
4. Plaintiff currently resides in Brevard County, Florida, and at all times material hereto resided in Brevard County, Florida.
5. Defendant is a Delaware corporation, doing business in the State of Florida, in Brevard County.
6. Defendant is an “employer” as defined by Florida Statutes, Chapter 760.
7. Plaintiff’s date-of-birth is October 29, 1942.
8. Plaintiff began her employment with Defendant in 1981 as a Loan Secretary.
9. During her twenty-four (24) year career with Defendant, Plaintiff has gone on to serve Defendant in many capacities including, inter alia, Office Manager, Branch Manager, Commercial Loan Officer, Officer in the Loan Workout Department, and Officer in the Real Estate Owned Department.
10. During her 24-year career with Defendant, Plaintiff has received several awards including the 1998 Branch Manager of the Year Award.
11. At all times during Plaintiff’s 24-year career with Defendant, 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 of the rules and regulations of Defendant.
12. Despite Plaintiff’s excellent performance and years of dedication to Defendant, Plaintiff has recently experienced harassment because of her age, and, in 2004, she was denied a promotion because of her age.
13. On August 30, 2004, Plaintiff filed formal complaints of age discrimination with the Florida Commission on Human Relations and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and more than one hundred eighty (180) days have expired since the filing of said complaints. See Exhibits A & B.
14. Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies prior to bringing this action.
15. Plaintiff has complied with all conditions precedent prior to bringing this action.
COUNT I
HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT BECAUSE OF AGE

16. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates herein the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 15 above.
17. In recent years, Defendant has created a hostile work environment because of Plaintiff’s age by reducing Plaintiff’s duties, workload, and responsibilities.
18. Defendant has, inter alia, removed Plaintiff’s loan authority; excluded her participation in managerial affairs; assigned her menial tasks well below her skill level, knowledge, and expertise; denied her a promotion which was given to an employee approximately thirty (30) years younger than Plaintiff; and asked Plaintiff to relocate to another office so a younger employee could take her office.
19. In addition, Defendant’s Vice President, Michael Brown, Jr. instructed Plaintiff’s former supervisor to lower Plaintiff’s 2002 performance evaluation and commented words to the effect that she was in the twilight of her career.
20. Defendant’s actions have caused Plaintiff, inter alia, stress, anxiety, loss of dignity, and mental anguish.
21. Defendant’s actions were intentional, malicious, and willful and in disregard of Plaintiff’s statutory right to work free of age discrimination.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant, HARBOR FLORIDA BANCSHARES, INC. d/b/a HARBOR FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including without limitation:
A. Judgment for back pay owed;
B. An award of interest on those sums of back pay for which Defendant is liable to Plaintiff;
C. Front pay;
D. An award for expenses incurred by Plaintiff and all money paid for medical expenses;
E. An award of reasonable attorney’s fees and all costs incurred herein;
F. An order requiring that all of Defendant’s personnel records be corrected to reflect excellent performance by Plaintiff;
G. Compensatory damages for, inter alia, stress, anxiety, loss of dignity, and mental anguish;
H. Punitive damages; and
I. Such other damages and remedies as may be just and proper.

COUNT II
NON-PROMOTION BECAUSE OF AGE

22. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates herein the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 15 above.
23. In or about October 2003, Defendant posted a vacancy announcement for an Assistant Regional position.
24. Selection to the Assistant Regional position would have resulted in a pay increase for Plaintiff.
25. Soon after the Assistant Regional position was posted, Plaintiff expressed her interest for that position to Defendant’s Brevard County Regional President, Sonia Payne.
26. Ms. Payne discouraged Plaintiff from applying for the position and told Plaintiff, inter alia, words to the effect of why would you want that position at this stage of your career. The message Ms. Payne was communicating was that Plaintiff was too old for the Assistant Regional position.
27. Defendant selected a substantially less experienced employee who is approximately thirty (30) years younger than Plaintiff for the Assistant Regional position.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant, HARBOR FLORIDA BANCSHARES, INC. d/b/a HARBOR FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK, for all damages to which she may be entitled, including without limitation:
A. Judgment for back pay owed;
B. An award of interest on those sums of back pay for which Defendant is liable to Plaintiff;
C. Front pay;
D. An award for expenses incurred by Plaintiff and all money paid for medical expenses;
E. An award of reasonable attorney’s fees and all costs incurred herein;
F. Compensatory damages for, inter alia, stress, anxiety, loss of dignity, and mental anguish;
G. Punitive damages; and
H. Such other damages and remedies as may be just and proper.
DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff demands a jury trial on all issues herein triable by jury.
DATED: This _____ day of March, 2005.
ALLEN & TRENT, P.A.

_________________________
Wayne L. Allen, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 110025
Adrienne E. Trent, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 0060119
Daniel A. Perez, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 0426903
Attorneys for Plaintiff
700 N. Wickham Road, Suite 107
Melbourne, Florida 32935
Phone: (321) 254-7550
Fax: (321) 242-1681