Lendingtree files to move former employee's discrimination lawsuit to federal court

By Sandra Lane | Jun 14, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – Lendingtree LLC, et al., defendants in a lawsuit filed by a former employee that alleges, among other things, sex discrimination, age discrimination and demotion and discharge in violation of public policy, recently served notice that they had taken proper actions to move the case from the Superior Court of California of San Mateo County to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.

SAN FRANCISCO –  Lendingtree LLC, et al., defendants in a lawsuit filed by a former employee that alleges, among other things, sex discrimination, age discrimination and demotion and discharge in violation of public policy, recently served notice that they had taken proper actions to move the case from the Superior Court of California of San Mateo County to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. 

In the May 25 filing to remove the case to federal court, the defendants said lawsuit meets the requirements for moving a case to a higher court in that it is a civil action in which the damages being sought exceed $75,000. It also meets requirements for diversity jurisdiction in that both plaintiffs and defendants reside or are incorporated in various states. 

This legal action began on March 30 when plaintiff Snejana Norris filed a complaint in the Superior Court of California for San Mateo County accusing her former employer, Lendingtree; her former supervisor, Sam Yount; and 1 to 50 other unnamed employees, for intentional misrepresentation, sex discrimination, demotion and discharge in violation of public policy and age discrimination in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

In addition, Norris accused them of a hostile work environment and harassment in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Norris said in her complaint that she worked for Lendingtree in Burlingame for approximately five years at a compensation of $135,000 per year in addition to a bonus valued at $13,500 and employment benefits. Her petition states that “her lost earnings to date would be approximately $191,250, approximately $11,250 per month for 17 months. Assuming plaintiff's claims would be successfully tried within a year (a conservative estimate), her total lost earnings to date of trial would be approximately $326,250, current losses plus an additional year of salary.”

Norris said that on or about Jan. 3, 2012, Lendingtree hired her when she was over the age of 40 for the position of senior manager. During her employment and other than any events immediately prior to her termination, plaintiff received no significant criticism of her work, the filing said.

Her filing said that in 2013, plaintiff was promoted to the position of director, paid search. In or about 2015, plaintiff was promoted to the position of senior director, paid search. Plaintiff received raises recognizing her satisfactory performance throughout her employment. On or about July 2016, plaintiff received a formal performance review in which she was rated as exceeding expectations. She received other similarly positive reviews in previous years. Despite these accomplishments, Norris was terminated on or about Jan. 20, 2017. 

During the term of her employment, defendants promised Norris that she would be given the opportunity to vest in the company’s stock options which were granted to her throughout her tenure, Norris said in her filing. As a result, she stated that she decided to stay with Lendingtree and not seek employment elsewhere. She said in the filing that she did not discover defendants’ subterfuge until Jan. 20, 2017, when she was discharged in bad faith just weeks before a significant portion of her stock options were scheduled to vest, in violation of defendants' promises to her.

In addition, Norris claims she was demoted just days after her application for a vice president position, and two weeks later, her salary was reduced by 15 percent and her bonus was cut in half. 

In her suit, Norris asks for judgment against each defendant to include compensatory damages including lost wages, earnings, equity, retirement benefits and other employee benefits, together with interest on these amounts. She also demands a money judgment for mental pain and anguish and emotional distress, costs of suit and attorney fees, and prejudgment and post-judgment interest.

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