Former employees suing prominent Broward attorney
12/01/2010 6:05 AM
12/01/2010 6:15 AM
Four former employees of the Law Firm of David J. Stern and its' related foreclosure processing company -- DJSP Enterprises, have filed a federal lawsuit claiming they were not given proper notice before being fired.
The employees allege Stern violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN, which mandates that employers give employees 60 days notice before being terminated.
Nikki Mack is one of the employees suing. She worked for Stern for 14 years rising from a receptionist to an office assistant. She was fired in October and was shocked when she saw a form email announcing that due to a lack of new business, she had been "selected to be part of the cutbacks."
Mack said she left the office on the day of her firing in tears, without severance pay and only days left on her health insurance coverage. That is what really steams her.
Mack said Stern knew that suffered through cancer treatments for lymphoma for six months and yet he allowed her health insurance coverage to end.
"I worked all through the treatments, I feel hurt that this is happening," Mack told CBS 4's Carey Codd. "He knew the situation I was going through with my illness."
Mack is not alone. At least 700 employees have lost their jobs at Stern's businesses in recent months. Stern's firm and company are under investigation by the Florida Attorney General's Office, who are investigating the companies for allegedly falsifying mortgage paperwork.
Attorneys for the employees -- Gary Farmer, Dawn Rapoport and Chandra Parker Doucette -- claim the employees did not receive proper notice before losing their jobs.
"We sued David J. Stern and his related companies because their employees never got this notice as required under the statute," attorneys Rapoport and Doucette said in a statement. "Sadly, one of the largest Broward county employers, the foreclosure king, put over 800 of his own employees in to the unemployment line and who knows if the next step would be foreclosure for them, just in time for the holidays."
Farmer said what these employees endured is unfair.
"These employees didn't do anything wrong," said attorney Gary Farmer. "They were hard workers, showing up on time, doing their jobs and they were unceremoniously cut loose simply because David Stern -- from the bridge of his yacht -- decided he didn't need them anymore because his profits were down."
Farmer also said that Stern should have anticipated the layoffs.
"Stern and his enterprise of companies had to known that a downturn in business was possible because they were engaging in fraud," Farmer said.
Attorneys for the employees are asking for the case to be given class action status.
Mack said she wants "an apology" first. But she also wants back pay and benefits from the time of her firing. She went several weeks within health insurance before receiving coverage through her husband's employer.
Fortunately, her cancer is in remission but she is remains angry over the way she was treated at a job she held for years.
"We need an explanation," she said. I'm hurt because I haven't seen David Stern in a while. I want to talk to him."
A lawyer representing the Stern law firm had no comment on the lawsuit. Attorney Jeffrey Tew said only that Stern "adjusted the employees to reflect the workload" at the businesses.
Earlier this fall, Stern left his position as CEO at DJSP Enterprises.
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