On July 2, 2016 a jury in Oakland, California returned a verdict for $914,500 in favor of Henry Duong, a former Department Chair of the Electronics Department of ITT Technical Institute's campus in Clovis, California. Mr. Duong worked for ITT for 7 years with three promotions, several commendations, and no record of disciplinary action.
In the fall of 2013, a promotional opportunity arose to become the Dean of the campus. Mr. Duong applied but did not get an interview. The person in charge of the hiring decision was manager Allison Hopkins. The company hired the youngest candidate with the least experience. Mr. Duong believed the hiring process was discriminatory. He spoke with another co-worker who had also been passed over on the promotion about suing the company for discriminatory hiring practices. Unbeknownst to Mr. Duong, this co-worker went behind his back and told Allison Hopkins that Mr. Duong planned to sue both the company and Ms. Hopkins personally for harassment and discrimination. Almost immediately after this conversation with the co-worker, Ms. Hopkins accused Mr. Duong of falsifying student attendance records for a specific class on a specific date, and recommended he be fired.
At trial, we were able to prove through computer records that Mr. Duong did not enter the attendance into the system for that class on that date. In other words, we proved the accusation was false. Beyond that, we proved that there were no reasonable grounds for Ms. Hopkins even to believe the accusation was true, and that Ms. Hopkins made the accusation either knowing it was false or with serious doubts as to its truth.
The trial lasted approximately 5 weeks. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Duong on claims for defamation, retaliation, and wrongful termination. The jury awarded $414,500 in economic and non-economic damages, plus an additional $500,000 in punitive damages.
Mr. Duong was represented by Lisa Peck of Peck-Law and Kevin Schwin, of counsel to Peck-Law.
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