CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Grillo's Pickles

If you haven't been to the Grillo's Pickles website, you should. There, you'll find the fantastic story of how this company began. We've copied part of it here to save you a click.

Grillo's Pickles began with a pickle cart, just a small wooden stand in downtown Boston, where Travis Grillo and his friends would sell two spears for one dollar. Travis would make the pickles by night using his family's 100-year old recipe - one he'd memorized from making pickles every summer as a kid. In the morning, Travis would bike to the Boston Common and set up the cart with his buddies. They'd hang out all day, urging people to try the simple Grillo family pickle. It was a small business but Travis worked hard for it. He made more pickles, biked more miles, and slept less hours than he ever had before.
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CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Factory Five Racing

Factory Five Racing was founded in 1995. Over the years they have grown from a start-up business in a small garage to become the world's largest manufacturer of "build-it-yourself" component car kits. They employ a full-time crew of about 40 people, and are located in Wareham, Massachusetts (about an hour south of Boston). They make their products right here in the USA, in the heart of New England where American manufacturing was born.
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Fred and Danny Magnanimi grew up watching their father create beautiful, handcrafted jewelry in the family's Cranston, RI jewelry manufacturing business. When the boys grew up, Fred moved to New York and began working on Wall Street as an investment banker, while younger brother Danny, still enamored by the family business, stayed home. Increased competition from overseas businesses created significant challenges for the business, but Danny was confident he could find a way for the family business to evolve and thrive. This was his mission, this was his passion.
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        Court of Appeals Upholds Termination of Airport Security Employee

        PS&H employment partner and Chair of the Labor & Employment Group, Alicia Samolis, provided comment to RI Lawyers Weekly on the recent 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Bonilla-Ramirez v. MVM, Inc., et al. The Court’s decision upheld the termination of an employee of a private security company providing services to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), because she could not prove that she had been treated differently than her male coworkers who were allowed to keep their jobs and because she could not prove the termination was triggered by protected conduct.

        Following a dispute between the plaintiff and another employee, and charges lodged against each other, MVM conducted an investigation. Through meetings with the parties involved as well as review of airport security video, MVM determined that the plaintiff had engaged in numerous security violations, including “abandoning her post” for two hours and “piggybacking,” i.e., following another person through a secured door without both swiping their airport badge and entering their personal code on a keypad. The company terminated the plaintiff who subsequently brought suit under Title VII, in which the U.S. District Court judge entered an award for summary judgment for the defendant, MVM.

        In the article published by Lawyers Weekly, Alicia Samolis, Chair of the Labor & Employment Group at Partridge Snow & Hahn, who was not involved in the case, noted that the plaintiff’s misconduct which led to her termination was uncovered during an investigation, prompted by her complaint to her supervisor about a dispute with a male co-worker, who then accused the plaintiff of having directed foul language toward him during the dispute.

        “What saved the employer here is that the court found an internal complaint about a co-worker was not protected conduct,” she added. “I could see a court going the other way on that issue.” The First Circuit found the internal complaint was not protected because it was not linked to statutorily prohibited discrimination, and rather was just a complaint about co-worker’s workplace behavior which Plaintiff disapproved. In addition, Ms. Samolis noted that even if the complaint had been protected, the investigation stemmed not just by Plaintiff’s complaint but also “because the co-worker complained about the plaintiff. If he hadn’t complained, the employer might have a problem in terminating the plaintiff so soon after her complaint. That would deter reporting,” Samolis said.

        The First Circuit also considered whether the termination itself, occurring after the investigation and on the eve the company received the EEOC filing, was in retaliation for filing the charge.
        “It seems so odd that ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ordered her removal the same day the plaintiff filed an EEOC complaint,” Samolis said. “The timing is so coincidental that a jury could find that something fishy happened, such as a phone call from the employer to ICE.”

        However, the First Circuit Court upheld the dismissal of the retaliation claim as well, stating the Plaintiff had not brought forward any evidence that the ICE order of removal was prompted by the company’s request. The decision was also likely influence by the fact that there was evidence at the lower court level that ICE’s removal decision was in the works prior to the EEO filing.

        Click here to read the full article. (subscription required)