An attorney representing retail giant Home Depot in a wrongful termination case
initiated by a suburban Philadelphia man is looking to transfer the matter from state to federal court.
Julie A. Donahue, a lawyer with Philadelphia-based Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., has petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to take over a case against her client that was filed last month at the Chester County Court of Common Pleas by Honey Brook, Pa. resident Gregory M. Dumond.
Dumond filed suit against the Home Depot store at 690 Lancaster Avenue in Frazer, Pa. in mid-May over claims that he was fired from his job after colleagues discovered he was a registered sex offender.
The plaintiff, who was fired hired at the store in the summer of 2010 as a cashier, and was later promoted to positions as both head cashier and garden department sales associate, claims in his civil action that he was let go soon after his supervisors discovered that a printed copy from the Megan’s Law website identifying Dumond as a convicted sex offender had been left in an employee break room.
Dumond doesn’t deny his sex offender status, but rather alleges that he had made the company aware of his prior felony conviction at the time of his hiring, his lawsuit states.
Dumond informed two supervisors of his past, and also noted the conviction on documents completed for Home Depot’s human resources department at the time he filled out his job application, the plaintiff claims.
The lawsuit says that neither Dumond’s status, or his felony conviction, relate to his “suitability for either employment as a sales associate or prospective employment as a team supervisor with Home Depot.”
Dumond claims in his complaint that he was fired from the company on Oct. 18, 2011, pursuant to one of the defendant’s “standard operating procedures, because he was a registered sex offender and had served time in prison.”
A copy of the performance/discipline notice written by the defendant, which was attached to the complaint, shows that Home Depot management did, in fact, terminate Dumond’s employment because of a company policy with regard to registered sex offenders.
The retailer is accused of violating the Pennsylvania Criminal Records Information Act.
“Home Depot’s actions were willful, and in reckless disregard for the legal requirements of the aforesaid statute,” the suit reads.
The state court action says that Dumond seeks actual damages in the amount of his lost wages in an amount in excess of $50,000, real damages in an amount not less than $100, exemplary and punitive damages in the amount of $10,000 and costs and attorney’s fees.
Dumond is being represented by West Chester, Pa. attorney William T. Wilson, of the firm MacElree Harvey.
Meanwhile, Donahue, the defendant’s attorney, stated in her removal notice that the matter should be litigated in federal court because diversity in citizenship exists between the party, and, perhaps more importantly, because the amount of damages sought by the defendant exceeds the jurisdictional limit in a Pennsylvania state court, which is $50,000.
The amount in controversy, Donahue wrote, actually appears to exceed $75,000, which would trigger federal court jurisdiction.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-03157-TJS.