On November 20, 2023, The New York State Division of Human Rights (“NYSDHR”) confirmed receipt of the verified complaint filed by The Law Office of David H. Rosenberg, P.C. (“Firm”) on behalf of the former Loss Prevention Manager, a Hispanic male (“Complainant”), against Baldor Professional Services LLC (“Baldor”), Krenar Jusufi (“Jusufi” ), Sheila Rivera (“Rivera”), and Catherine Jones (“Jones” and all together as “Respondents”).
Baldor, self-described as one of the largest importers and distributors of fresh produce and specialty foods in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, subjected Complainant to a hostile work environment on account of race. To this point, Jusufi would typically tell Complainant: “Nobody can understand you with English being your second language”; “many managers cannot understand you, they complain about your accent”; “there is a language barrier and many people complain about it”; “you have problems with your communication style”; and “I can’t understand your English.”
However, no other manager or employee, or anyone else for that meter, ever complained about communication problems to Complainant directly. Jusufi refused to identify any managers or employees by name that actually complained; no such managers or employees are believed to have actually so-complained; and Complainant’s English was coherent and articulate. Complainant believed he was being treated less well on account of his Hispanic race. In response, Complainant would typically oppose the treatment by telling Jusufi to “stop”; that he spoke English well; was not aware of any such complaints; or by politely switching the topic of conversation. Jusufi then retaliated.
On June 30, 2023, Jusufi approached Complainant at the Premises and grabbed Complainant’s arm with force causing temporary pain and discomfort. Jusufi then pointed his index finger directly in Complainant’s face and screamed, “I don’t listen to you, you listen to me. I have a problem with your second language barrier, I can’t understand you.” Complainant told Jusufi to stop and changed the topic of the conversation.
On July 12, 2023, Complainant reported the June 30, 2023 incident to Jones saying words to the effect of, “Krenar grabbed my arm the other day, got in my face, pointed his finger at me and screamed at me that I have a second language barrier, that he can’t understand me, and you know that my English is fine.” Jones replied generally, “I will look into it and set up a meeting.” However, Jones neither “looked into it” nor set up any “meeting.” Indeed, no investigation was conducted, no disciplinary action was given, and no corrective action was taken. On the contrary, the hostile work environment intensified.
On or around July 14, 2023, Jusufi refused to completely fill out Complainant’s performance review and subjected Complainant to unwanted and unnecessary strict scrutiny in select areas which resulted in an unjust scoring and misrepresentation of job performance.
On or around July 15, 2023, Complainant physically diffused a fight between two Hispanic employees who belonged to rival Dominican gangs. One employee was armed with a knife and the other with a wooden baseball bat. As a result of the gang fight, blood splattered onto Complainant’s jeans, boots, and person. Complainant immediately reported the gang assault to Jusufi who refused to call the police or take any action.
On or around August 15, 2023, recently terminated black employee Jimmy Mack (“Mack”) still possessed his badge ID permitting access to the Premises. While illegally trespassing on the Premises, Mack was observed by Complainant, who approached him and politely asked him to leave. When Mack refused, Mack brandished a silver pistol and Complainant reported the incident to Rivera who refused to call the police and thus no arrest was effectuated.
On or around September 6, 2023, Complainant diffused a knife fight between two Hispanic employees at the Premises by confiscating a shank knife from one of the would-be assailants. Complainant reported this incident to Rivera telling her, “I just broke up this fight in the parking lot, one of them had a knife.” Rivera refused to call the police. Other non-Hispanic employees and those who did not oppose discriminatory practices were not treated this way.
On September 15, 2023, the Firm sent a pre-litigation letter to Baldor complaining of the racial discrimination described herein and requesting to engage in amicable settlement negotiations. Instead of engaging in such communications, Baldor retaliated against Complainant for engaging in the protected activity of complaining about racial discrimination through his attorneys.
After the pre-litigation letter was sent on September 15, 2023, via email, Complainant received his first companywide email celebrating “Hispanic Heritage.” This was the first time during his employment that Complainant had received any such email celebrating Hispanic Heritage. Thus, Complainant believed that Baldor was attempting to cover up the racial discrimination described here in retaliation.
On September 19, 2023, the Company displayed colorful Hispanic flags at the entrance of the Premises in what Complainant believed to be a further effort to mask the racial discrimination and retaliation. On October 2, 2023, Complainant was terminated on account of race and in retaliation.