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Entries in Boss (3)

Tuesday
Apr242012

NY Woman Fired After Donating Kidney to Help Her Boss

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A New York woman said she was fired after she donated a kidney to help save the life of her boss.

Debbie Stevens, a 47-year-old divorced mother of two, filed a formal complaint with the New York State Human Rights Commission last Friday, claiming her boss used her for her organ then fired her "after the woman got what she wanted." 

Stevens' boss, 61-year-old Jackie Brucia, is one of the West Islip controllers for Atlantic Automotive Group, a billion-dollar dealership operator.  Brucia hired Stevens in January 2009 as an assistant.

"She just started treating me horribly, viciously, inhumanly after the surgery," Stevens told ABC News.  "It was almost like she hired me just to get my kidney."

Stevens left the company in June 2010 to move to Florida.  She returned to New York in September to visit her daughter, and decided to stop in at the dealership, according to the complaint.  It was during this visit that Brucia told Stevens of her need for a kidney transplant.

"She said she had a possible donor, a friend or something," Stevens said.  "But I told her if anything happened that I'd be willing to donate my kidney.  She kind of jokingly replied, 'You never know, I may have to take you up on that one day.'"

A few months later, Stevens moved back to Long Island and asked Brucia if she had any job openings.  Brucia hired her within weeks.

Then, in January 2011, Stevens said her boss called her into her office and asked if she was serious about donating her kidney.

"I said, 'Yeah, sure.  This isn't a joking matter,'" Stevens said.  "I did not do it for job security.  I didn't do it to get a raise.  I did it because it's who I am.  I didn't want her to die."

When tests revealed that Stevens was not the best match, doctors agreed to let her give her kidney to someone in Missouri, which gave Brucia a higher place on the organ donor list.

Stevens underwent surgery on Aug. 10, 2011.  She said doctors hit a nerve in her leg, causing her discomfort and digestive problems.  She returned to work four weeks later, and said that's when the problems began.

"I don't have words strong enough or large enough to describe her treatment of me," Stevens said.  "Screaming at me about things I never did, carrying on to the point where she wouldn't even let me leave my desk.  It was constant, constant screaming."

Stevens said she was demoted and moved to a car dealership 50 miles from her home.  She said the mental stress got even worse, with her supervisor calling her an "actress."

After consulting a psychiatrist for her mental stress, Stevens hired attorneys who sent a letter to Atlantic Automotive Group.  She was fired within a week.

When reached by ABC News, AAG referred all calls about the case to Jackie Brucia, Stevens' supervisor, who could not be reached for comment, at either the car dealership or her home.  It is not known whether Brucia has legal representation at this time.

Stevens' attorney, civil rights lawyer Lenard Leeds, said he planned to file a discrimination lawsuit against AAG, and would likely seek millions of dollars in compensation.

"Our ultimate goal is to bring this before federal court," Leeds said.  "We're alleging they discriminated against her for her disability and they retaliated against her when she complained about the harassment."´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct062011

QC Mart Employee Wins Case against "The Boss from Hell" 

Getty(BETTANDORF, Iowa) -- The owner of an Iowa convenience store chain has been called "the boss from hell" by a former worker who claims he offered prize money to employees who predicted which of their colleagues would be fired next.

A judge deciding an unemployment benefits case involving William Ernst, the owner of a Bettandorf, Iowa-based chain of QC Marts, found his "contest" to be "egregious and deplorable."

According to court records, Ernst issued a memo to workers in March that read, "NEW CONTEST - GUESS THE NEXT CASHIER WHO WILL BE FIRED !!!"

The memo explained the rules of a game in which employees were told to write the name of the next cashier they thought would be fired, along with the date and their own name on a piece of paper. Those who guessed correctly would win a $10 prize.

"And no fair picking Mike Miller from Rockingham," the memo added in boldfaced capital letters. "He was fired at around 11:30 a.m. today for wearing a had [sic] and talking on his cell phone. Good luck!!!!"

Misty Shelsky of Davenport, Iowa, had worked at a QC Mart for two years as a cashier. The 32-year-old mother of three initially thought the memo was a prank. When she found out the contest was not a joke, she, her store manager, and two others quit.

"It made me physically ill to think about writing someone's name down," she said. "These are my friends. And it made me sick to think someone would do that to me. Everyone's head was on the chopping block."

When Shelsky applied for unemployment benefits, Ernst contested the claim, saying she had left voluntarily.

Shelsky said she had little choice.

"That memo created an extremely hostile [environment] for us and it pitted employee against employee," she said.

Court records also include letters from other QC Mart employees who called the contest "bizarre and unprofessional." Another said it "created an atmosphere of distrust, intimidation and paranoia."

In the hearing before a judge, Anna DeFrieze, a supervisor with QC Marts, defended the contest. She said it took aim at employees who had a history of disregarding company policy.

"This fax was meant toward employees, like Misty herself, who refused to follow the rules," DeFrieze said. "If you're breaking the rules you need to stop. They're repeatedly told not to use their phones while working. Bad language is unacceptable. Playing video games, unacceptable. ... None of them was doing their jobs. "

But, the judge ruled in Shelsky's favor, saying she should not be barred from receiving unemployment insurance because, although she quit, she had "good cause attributable to the employer."

In her written decision, Administrative Law Judge Susan D. Ackerman said that Ernst "clearly created a hostile work environment by suggesting employees turn on each other for a minimal monetary prize."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr132011

Mafia Don Turns Public Snitch in Mob First

(NEW YORK) -- For the first time in American organized crime history, a former Mafia don testified in open court against his successor, becoming the highest-ranking gangster to break the mob's sacred code of silence on the stand.

"Vinny told me that he had killed him," Joseph "Big Joey" Massino told a Brooklyn court Tuesday, referring to an alleged jailhouse confession by Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano. Basciano, the head of the secretive Bonanno family, is accused of ordering the murder of an associate that had fallen out of favor in 2004. He is already serving a life sentence from a previous conviction.

Massino said that in 2005 Basciano told him he killed gangster Randolph Pizzolo because Basciano said Pizzolo was "a scumbag, a rat, a troublemaker, a bad kid."

Though Massino continued his testimony Wednesday, one official familiar with the case told ABC News his colorful testimony has already been helpful to the prosecution.

In addition to fingering Basciano, the 68-year-old Massino candidly answered the prosecutor's questions about his time at the head of the family.

As a boss, Massino said he was responsible for spotting talent -- whether in killing or in racketeering -- in the mob ranks and promoting and demoting captains.

"Some people, they kill. Some people, they earn.... It takes all kinds of meat to make a good sauce," Massino said. He said that he was known as "The Ear" because his men would never say his name aloud, out of suspicion of FBI surveillance, and would instead touch their ear to refer to him.

Massino said he joined the family business in 1977. He is serving two life terms after a 2004 conviction for multiple murders, including ordering the payback killing of the mobster who brought famed undercover FBI agent Donnie Brasco into the mob in the 1980s.

Basciano's lawyer, George Goltzer, told the court in his opening statement Basciano did not order the killing for which he is accused, but falsely admitted doing so to protect a friend. Goltzer also warned against taking Massino and others slated to testify against Basciano at their word.

"The United States government needs to make deals with the devil," Goltzer said. "You don't have to accept what they say."

Massino, who has cooperated with investigators since his 2004 conviction but had never taken the stand against a boss, said he knew he was violating the mob's sacred code of silence, or "omerta."

"Once a bullet leaves that gun, you never talk about it," Massino told the court.

Massino testified that he had worn a wire for federal investigators when talking to Basciano in prison.

Despite his high rank, Massino was flipped "just like anyone else," according to former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett.

"You make a case against someone and then you flip them," Garrett said. "I think that he's probably decided that [cooperating is] the only way to save himself from spending the rest of his life in prison."

Massino said in court that he hoped his cooperation could get him a reduced sentence.

"One day, maybe I'll see a light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

Massino's breach of omerta is hardly the first.

When the FBI rounded up more than 125 suspected mobsters in January, investigators said the death of omerta was integral to the operation.

Those cases were "the cumulative result of years of investigative work, including the development of key cooperating witnesses -- a trend that has definitely been tipping in favor of law enforcement," Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York Division, said at the time.

To mob experts, the rampant snitching is just another symptom of a mafia that's well past its prime.

"Most people's perception of traditional organized crime, from The Godfather to The Sopranos, that's an era that has passed," Garrett said.

After the January arrests, author and mob expert George Anastasia told ABC News law enforcement has beaten the mob down.

"Thirty or 40 years ago, organized crime, La Cosa Nostra, was a major player in the underworld. Their impact was greater, they made more money and the public payed a bigger price for what they were doing... As they've gotten hit again and again and again with indictments and prosecutions and as they've turned on one another, their influence has deteriorated and they don't have the same kind of impact they used to have," Anastasia said. "They just don't have the power."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐







ABC News Radio