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WGSN, INC. (NY), WGSN LTD. (UK), and EMAP LTD. (UK) Sued in New York by Ex-Employee of Mexican National Origin for Alleged Unlawful Discrimination and NY Labor Law Violations.

CORNWALL, N.Y., May 3 /PRNewswire/ -- MONICA BENNER, a 28 year old woman of Mexican national origin has filed a civil rights lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court, for New York County (Index No. 103639/10), against her former employer, WGSN, INC (NY), WGSN, LTD. (UK), a leading global trend-spotting and fashion-forecasting service, EMAP LTD., the UK-based "business-to-business multiplatform media group" that owns WGSN (collectively, "WGSN/EMAP"), and individual members of management, including but not limited to DAVID GILBERTSON, CEO of EMAP LTD (UK), and MICHAEL GAZALA, President for the Americas of WGSN, INC. (NY).

Since her hiring in November 2007 by WGSN/EMAP, by WGSN's own admission, as a Regional Sales Manager, Ms. Benner's "business development in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean [resulted in her opening] new markets for WGSN and [grew] the business in these [regions] by 137%". Despite this fact, Ms. Benner alleges that, during her employment with WGSN/EMAP, defendants subjected her to harassment and discrimination due to her gender and Mexican national origin. As an example of the hostility and retaliatory animus harbored against her by Gazala and Christopher Kelley (Ms. Benner's immediate supervisor at WGSN, who is also a defendant in her action), Ms. Benner alleges that, during a meeting in late May 2009, Kelly, Gazala, and/or both told her, in sum and substance: "you're a smart woman right ? ... [sic] ... we're doing you a favor and you have to accept [an amount of commission and bonuses proposed by Gazala & Kelly that Ms. Benner alleges was far less than the amount truly owed her]".

Ms. Benner further alleges that when she complained internally of the alleged unlawful discrimination and threatened to file a charge of discrimination with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), defendants terminated her employment in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. Until this day, defendants have not given any reason to Ms. Benner or her counsel as to why Ms. Benner was terminated.

Ms. Benner alleges that WGSN/EMAP improperly withheld commission and bonus payments to her, contrary to the terms of her express and/or implied employment contract, and that, she was also terminated because she was very vocal in her opposition to not being paid her fully earned commissions and bonuses contrary to New York Labor Law. Ms. Benner alleges that, as early as June 2008, WGSN/EMAP also did not pay other NY employees, who received commissions and/or bonuses as part of their compensation, their properly earned commissions and/or bonuses, and that WGSN/EMAP made unauthorized deductions from the pay of other NY sales employees as well in violation of the New York Labor Law. Ms. Benner is seeking, at a minimum, $550,000.00, from all defendants for lost commissions, bonuses, back and front pay, full compensatory damages, and punitive damages for defendants' alleged illegal conduct as alleged in her Complaint.

Another ex-WGSN, INC. (NY) Sales Manager, Frederick Magner, filed a lawsuit (Index No. 113405/09) against WGSN, INC. (NY) and EMAP LTD. ("WGSN/EMAP") in late September 2009, which was also filed in New York County Supreme Court. In his suit, Mr. Magner alleges similar violations of the New York Labor Law for WGSN/EMAP's alleged improper withholding of his earned commissions and/or bonuses. Mr. Magner alleges that, after his counsel sent a letter/email to Gazala on August 20, 2009 notifying Gazala that Mr. Magner intended to sue WGSN/EMAP for alleged violations of the New York Labor Law, defendants retaliated against him on August 24th by issuing him a notice to terminate his employment unless he signed a New Compensation Plan (the "New Comp Plan"). Mr. Magner alleges that, as a result of defendants' retaliatory tactics, he was coerced to sign the New Comp Plan. Mr. Magner further alleges that the New Comp Plan is "unconscionable". The New Comp Plan has a "conflict resolution clause" stating:

"If and when conflicts arise as to any aspect of the administration of the plan, any eligible employee has the right to seek an interpretation and/or variance from the [New Comp Plan]. The employee agrees, however, that the interpretation and administration of the [New Comp Plan] is within the sole discretion of the President/[Managing Director'] [of WGSN]". (emphasis added).

Mr. Magner was terminated by WGSN/EMAP on September 22, 2009, the same day that he filed his suit. Both Ms. Benner and Mr. Magner are being represented by Jimmy M. Santos, Esq. of Cornwall, New York.

SOURCE Law Offices of Jimmy M. Santos, PLLC
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Publication:PR Newswire
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 3, 2010
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