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Filing # 17623566 Electronically Filed 08/28/2014 ll:2l :46 AM

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE THIRTEENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT


IN AND FOR HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, STATE OF FLORIDA
CIVIL DIVISION

HOLLY KELLEY,
Plaintiff,

vs.

Case No.

NEW YORK YANKEES


LIMITED PARTNERSHIP,
Defendant.

/
COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL
Plaintiff, HOLLY KELLEY, hereby sues Defendant, NEW YORKYANKEES LIMITED
PARTNERSHIP ("Defendant") and alleges as follows:

JURISDICTION AND VENUE


1.

This is a Civil action for the recovery of damages the value of which exceeds
$15,000, exclusive of pre-judgment interest, costs, and attorney's fees.

2.

Plaintiff was a resident of Hillsborough County, Florida at all times material to this
action.

3.

Defendant conducted business and had its principal place of business in


Hillsborough County, Florida at all times relevant to this action.

4.

At all times material to this action, Defendant was Plaintiff's employer within the

meaning of the Florida Civil Rights Act, as amended, 760.10 Q sad., Florida
Statutes ("FCRA").
5.

Plaintiff has performed all conditions precedent necessary to the maintenance of


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this action or such conditions precedent have been waived, including the timely
filing of appropriate charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and the Florida Commission on Human
Relations ("FCHR"). Plaintiff has exhausted her administrative remedies under the

FCRA.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS
6.

Plaintiff commenced employment with Defendant on or about December 2005 as


an Executive Assistant to one of Defendant's executives, Steve Dauria.

7.

Dauria left employment with Defendant in 2007. Thereafter, Plaintiff was assigned
to various positions in the Accounting Department.

8.

Derrick Baio was the Controller over the Accounting Department in and before
2012.

9.

On April 3, 201 2, Plaintiff was entering accounts payable invoices for payment when
a non-supervisory male accounting employee, Aaron Butler, insultingly dropped a
stack of invoices over the wall in front of Plaintiff's desk, creating a water spill. After
Butler dropped the invoices, he laughed and walked away.

10.

This event typified the work environment which certain male employees created and

maintained for Plaintiff. Butler had tossed invoices on Plaintiff's desk in similar
insulting ways prior to April 3, 2012.

11.

Plaintiff reported Butler's conduct on April 3 soon thereafter to a payroll director.


Plaintiff reported that she was working in a sexually hostile work environment. As
support for her belief, Plaintiff questioned why Butler was assigning work to Plaintiff

and Brittany Ward and reported that Butler had referred to Plaintiff as a "whore
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face" and Baio had referred to Plaintiff as a "bitch" in the presence of co-workers
during February 2012. The supervisor to whom Plaintiff reported the hostility and
harassment stated that the appropriate persons would be notified.
12.

Plaintiff did not feel comfortable reporting Butler's conduct to Baio in April 2012
because Baio was good friends with Butler and had made comments about Plaintiff.

13.

In response to her complaint, on April 6, 2012, Plaintiff was called to a meeting by


Tony Bruno, Chief Financial Officer. Terry Jenkins was present. Bruno proceeded

to inform Plaintiff that she was making "very serious accusations." Bruno did not

show any interest in Plaintiff's concerns and proceeded to inform Plaintiff that
Plaintiff could have been terminated after her initial assignment working for Dauria
ended. Bruno stated he was concerned Plaintiff did not have enough work to do if
she was so concerned about Butler. Plaintiff pointed out that Baio and Butler had

no right to harass her and make sexually derogatory comments in front of coworkers. Plaintiff also pointed out that Butler had no right to throw work at her.

Jenkins agreed that the conduct was degrading but Bruno informed Plaintiff her
complaint about the comments was based on "hearsay." Plaintiff was repeatedly
criticized for not taking a position in 2009 by Bruno and Jenkins. Bruno promised to

look into the issues and get back with Plaintiff. Plaintiff left that meeting feeling
insecure and unsupported.
14.

On April 9, 2012, Plaintiff reported to work. Butler and Baio ceased speaking with
Plaintiff. Plaintiff felt alienated and ostracized.

15.

On May 21, 2012, Plaintiff was informed by a fellow co-worker that Baio and Butler

were angry with Plaintiff and were plotting to retaliate against Plaintiff further by
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falsely accusing Plaintiff of violating a policy governing the consumption of alcohol


by Defendant's employees at Spring Training games.
16.

After weeks of further hostility, on June 11, 2012, Plaintiff sent Bruno an email
reminding him that he had promised to get back with Plaintiff on her discrimination
complaint and had not done so. Bruno saw Plaintiff on June 11 and acknowledged
receipt of the email, stating he will be in touch soon.

17.

On June 12, 2012, Plaintiff sent Bruno another email in an effort to alleviate the
workplace hostility and Bruno called Plaintiff on the telephone and yelled at her
loudly. Plaintiff reminded Bruno about his promises in April 2012 and on June 11.

Bruno called Plaintiff to a meeting at 12:00 noon and Jenkins was again present.

Bruno stated again that the allegations are serious. Plaintiff reported that no one
was speaking to her for months after the April 6, 2012 meeting and that she was
very uncomfortable. Bruno informed Plaintiff that Butler had put in his resignation.
Bruno was condescending and almost bitter towards Plaintiff, asking her "what did

you expect to happen out of all of this'?" Bruno then leveled an allegation that
Plaintiff had violated Defendant's alcohol policy. Plaintiff denied violating the policy.
After this, Bruno became enraged and told Plaintiff he was going to call an attorney
named Tom Gonzalez and that he (Gonzalez) was going to tell Plaintiff something.
When Plaintiff stated she was not comfortable speaking directly with Tom Gonzalez,
Bruno asked "What's the problem . " Bruno proceeded to call Tom Gonzalez on
speaker phone and Tom Gonzalez had to inform Bruno to end the call immediately.
18.

Bruno was incredibly insulting to Plaintiff after Gonzalez refused to speak with
Plaintiff by speaker-phone.

Plaintiff proposed that the meeting include Hal


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Steinbrenner. Bruno told Plaintiff, "Hal doesn't want to talk to you! He already
knows about this and he doesn't want to discuss this with you! It's stupid and you're
being childish." Plaintiff then felt she was being berated and wanted to leave

Bruno's office. Bruno wanted to resume the meeting and it resumed with Plaintiff
crying from Bruno's abusive and retaliatory conduct. Bruno then insulted Plaintiff
by stating, "what's wrong, you look like you're in turmoil, maybe this ins't the right
place for you'?" Jenkins then stated, "We care about this place." Bruno then told
Plaintiff she hit a glass ceiling, you are not going anywhere else within the
organization and you're not getting a raise, you've hit a cap on your salary." Bruno
told Plaintiff her title would remain Executive Assistant.
19.

Plaintiff left this meeting in shock.

20.

Plaintiff suffered emotional distress from Bruno's retaliatory conduct during and
before the meeting of June 12, 2012.

21.

On June 13, 2012, Plaintiff experienced difficulty sleeping, causing her to miss a
scheduled flight to begin a vacation.

22.

On June 20, 2012, Plaintiff saw her physician and was encouraged to report Bruno's
conduct to a higher authority.

23.

On June 21, 201 2, Plaintiff reported Bruno's failure to take action and his retaliatory
threats against Plaintiff to Curtis Lane, Vice President and Director of Security, and

Tim Guidry. Lane informed Plaintiff she did nothing wrong and would report the
matter to Hal Steinbrenner.
24.

On June 22, 2012, Brittney Ward informed Plaintiff that she was called into Bruno's

office while Plaintiff was on vacation. Ward reported that she was not treated
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unfairly because she had already taken another job and did not want to get into the
past.
25.

On June 28, 2013, Bruno called Plaintiff into his office to deliver a typed letter with
regard to Plaintiff's complaint. Bruno informed Plaintiff to let him know if she did not
agree with the letter. Plaintiff was too afraid to even read the letter before leaving

Bruno's office.
26.

On July 9, 2012, Baio held a meeting with the accounting department and
announced that Butler would not be replaced and that Plaintiff would be receiving
an even larger number of accounts payable invoices to enter.

27.

Over the next few months, Plaintiff handled an ever larger workload. Another
employee assigned to accounts payable, Matt Szponar, failed on multiple occasions
to perform his assigned tasks and would disappear for hours at a time. Szponarwas
allowed to place a screen shot of MAS2000 on his compute to give the appearance
he was performing accounts payable tasks. Plaintiff endured the uneven workload

as she was in abject fear of losing her job in retaliation for her complaints about
Butler, Baio and Bruno.
28.

In November 2012, Defendant hired a replacement for Butler. However, the


replacement employee did not assist in accounts payable.

29.

Through March 7, 2013, Plaintiff continued to perform a larger workload than


Szponar and believed this was in retaliation for her prior complaints.

30.

On March 7, 2013, Plaintiff made an additional complaint regarding her current and
previous concerns to Jean After man, providing her with a copy of the letter Bruno
previously furnished. After man read the letter and rolled her eyes. She informed
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Plaintiff that, as an Officer of the Yankees, she would need to relay these events to

Lonn Trost, COO.

31.

After man informed Plaintiff on March 8, 2013 that Trost planned on speaking with
Plaintiff about her complaints.

32.

Trost was in Tampa on March 13, 2013 but did not speak with Plaintiff.

33.

On March 19, 2013, After man informed Plaintiff that Ann Hayes of the Employee
Assistance Program planned to speak with Plaintiff.

34.

On March 20, 201 3, Plaintiffs poke with Hayes by telephone and informed her about
the multitude of events which took place during the previous 12 or so months.

35.

Hayes told Plaintiff she needed to get up to speed on Bruno's actions and would be
in touch. Hayes never spoke with Plaintiff again.

36.
37.

The work environment did not change.

On June 20, 2013, Plaintiff got up from her desk to take a break. Szponar was
attempting to secretly monitor where Plaintiff was going. After Plaintiff returned to
her desk, she heard the fellow accounts payable employees and Baio talking and
specifically heard Szponar state, "l thought Holly was going into Hal's office, I got

scared for a second." Christian Ruiz then mocked Plaintiff and stated, "Hal, l'm
doing all Matt's work and he's doing nothing. WAAH!" All three employees started
laughing. Plaintiff was visibly hurt by this harassment. Ruiz asked Plaintiff why she
was upset and Plaintiff advised Ruiz she overheard the employees making

statements about her.


38.

On June 24, 2013, Plaintiff was away from her desk for a short while. While she
was away, someone placed a stack of account payable invoices in with the stack
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on which Plaintiff was already working. Plaintiff asked Szponar if he was the culprit

and he denied it, speculating that another employee did it. The other employee
indicated that the invoices belonged to Szponar.
39.

On June 25, 2013, Plaintiff asked to speak with Hal Steinbrenner and Plaintiff
reported the ongoing harassment and retaliation byte accounting department and

Bruno. Hal Steinbrenner stated that he was made aware that an issue existed but
had been told it was a personality conflict. Plaintiff reported she was working in a
hostile environment and could not tolerate further abuse. Hal Steinbrenner stated
he would need to speak to Bruno.
40.

On June 28, 2013, Plaintiff received a voicemail from Defendant's Human


Resources Director, Janette Martin. Plaintiff called Martin from a private office and
reported what has been going on. Martin asked Plaintiff if she had been contacted
by Tom Gonzalez. Plaintiff said "no."

41.

On July 9, 2013, Plaintiff attempted to speak with Newton Linebaugh since no one
else would speak with Plaintiff. Linebaugh replied, "No, I don't trust you right now
and I can't speak with you without a witness present." Plaintiff asked Linebaugh if
he was kidding and he said he was not. Plaintiff was floored.

42.

On July 10, 2013, Plaintiff began an extended leave of absence due to the
cumulative effect of the hostility and retaliation.

43.

Defendant formally discharged Plaintiff from employment in 2014.

COUNT I -RETALIATION IN VIOLATION OF FCRA


44.

Plaintiff realleges paragraphs 1 through 43 as if fully set forth herein.

45.

Plaintiff was subjected to a hostile work environment, false allegations of


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misconduct, abusive treatment and other forms of retaliation by Defendant because


of her protected activities, as alleged above. Plaintiff suffered severe trauma from

Defendant's willful disregard of her emotional well-being. Defendant's retaliation


resulted in Plaintiff being unable to perform her position beginning in July 2013.
46.

Plaintiff has been damaged by the conduct of Defendant.


WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests this Honorable Court to:
A.

Enjoin Defendant from engaging in any employment practice violative


of FCRA.

B.

Grant a judgment requiring Defendant to pay to Plaintiff any back


wages and back benefits found to be due and owing at the time of
trial, compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be proved
at trial, and prejudgment interest thereon,

C.

Grant Plaintiff costs and an award of reasonable attorney's fees


pursuant to the FCRA, and

D.

Grant Plaintiff trial by jury and such further relief as the Court deems
just and equitable.

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DEMAND FOR TRIAL BY JURY


Plaintiff demands trial by jury as to all counts so friable.
Respectfully submitted,
BERMAN LAW FIRM, P.A.

By:

/s/ Craig L. Berman


Craig L. Berman, Esquire
Fla. Bar No. 068977
111 2nd Avenue, N.E.
Suite 706
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Phone: (727) 550-8989
Fax: (727) 894-6251

craig@bermanlawpa.com
A1ToRNEY FOR PLAINTIFF

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