Regus gambles at trial and loses - badly.

Saw an interesting article online the other day – involving a VERY large wrongful discharge verdict out of California. The verdict was against Regus the nationwide office space provider. Denise Steffens, sued back in 2010. Steffens was a long-time manager for Regus. She claimed that she had a meeting with Regus management personnel and complained that Regus was improperly denying employees rest and meal breaks. Steffens further claimed that after she walked out of the meeting, a Regional Vice President instructed underlings to “get rid of her”. Not long thereafter, Steffens was indeed fired. She alleged that her firing was in retaliation for the complaints she had aired. Regus, in response, claimed Steffens’ poor attitude brought about the termination. [For 10 years Steffens had received positive reviews and merit-based raises – so any allegations about her attitude must have been hard to make with a straight face].

Regus had somehow gotten the case tossed[no explanation as to how in the reports I read] but in June of 2012, the order throwing the case out was reversed. The case went to trial in May, 2013. The jury found for Steffens and determined that her termination was in retaliation for blowing the whistle on her employer’s failure to provide appropriate breaks. And, most importantly, the jury whacked Regus with a $4.6 million verdict. Ouch. Regus sought to get the verdict tossed, claiming legal error, juror misconduct and inadequate jury instructions. U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns refused to overturn the verdict. His opinion included the “verdict in this case obviously came as a surprise to Regus and was probably tough to swallow.” I will bet it was.