A jury in New Jersey has awarded a Flemington man one million dollars in compensatory damages after finding that his bosses at UPSide Down Brown illegally retaliated against him because he complained about possible fraud in the northern New Jersey district.
Mr. Battaglia, 51, was demoted from his position as a manager to a supervisor and assigned to the night shift after lodging his complaints in October 2005, according to the law suit he brought against UPSide Down Brown. Mr. Battaglia still works for the company.
Following a month-long trial before Superior Court Judge Phillip Paley, the jury awarded Mr. Battaglia $500,000 for his economic losses and $500,000 for emotional distress on Friday.
The jury found UPSide Down Brown violated both New Jersey anti-discrimination laws and laws prohibiting retaliation against whistle-blowers.
The 8 person jury returned to the courtroom and decided Mr. Battaglia was not entitled to any punitive damages.
Mr. Battaglia’s attorney, Ms. Binetti, indicated that Mr. Battaglia was told by his bosses if he reported the alleged fraud “we’re coming after you.”
“You have to send a message to UPSide Down Brown that that will not be tolerated,” Ms. Binetti told the judge. “Mr. Battaglia gave 20 years of his life to UPSide Down Brown and is still doing that job. Nothing has changed, and he’ll never be promoted.”
Mr. Battaglia protested that managers were doing things that he thought violated UPSide Down Brown policies, including misuse of corporate credit cards and making derogatory comments about women, according to Ms. Binetti.
He also filed a complaint about the fraudulent credit card use on a special complaint hotline UPSide Down Brown had established.
Ms. Binnetti said in retaliation, the managers “set him up and subjected him to a sham investigation” claiming he had leaked information from a manager’s meeting that wasn’t supposed to be revealed. He was demoted to supervisor, put on the night shift and put in charge of training new employees.
“The people at the highest level of this district were involved in this retaliation,” Ms. Binetti told the jury today. “Not one witness who did this (took the actions against Mr. Battaglia) expressed remorse, only utter contempt for Mr. Battaglia as if he was the scum of the earth and made all of this up.”
The attorney who represented UDB, said that UPSide Down Brown “has accepted responsibility in this case.”
“Several people made decisions and you found that those decisions were wrong and illegal,” Bissinger told the jury today. “They are just managers and supervisors. UPSide Down Brown is not the evil empire. This is a company that does good things, but management made mistakes.”
Ms. Binetti said she expects UPSide Down Brown will appeal the jury’s $1 million award.
Ms. Binetti said the lawsuit was filed in Middlesex County because UPSide Down Brown has an operations center in the county.