CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Maryann Gallagher delivering her opening statement
Los Angeles, CA - A California state court jury heard opening statements Thursday in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed against retail giant Home Depot featuring high-powered attorneys on both sides.
Plaintiff Patricia Tillotson was fired from her position as a sales associate at a Home Depot located in Torrance, California after an investigation allegedly revealed that she gave a customer improper markdowns and didn’t charge him for certain items he would purchase at the store.
However Tillotson argues the firing was actually because of her age, alleged disability and for supposedly acting as a whistleblower.
The full trial is being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
Both sides are represented by a top-tier array of litigators specializing in employment law.
Tillotson is represented by Maryann P. Gallagher. While Gallagher’s office only has four employees, including herself, she has racked up numerous jury verdicts in employment cases against corporate defendants, and in 2017 was named “Trial Attorney of the Year” by Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles, the largest plaintiff’s lawyer association in the nation.
Home Depot is represented by Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC, a powerhouse firm with a focus on employment litigation with more than 35 offices throughout the United States and more across the globe.
During her opening statement, Gallagher told jurors that Tillotson was disabled due to a lengthy recovery from breast cancer surgery and also varicose veins in her legs during the time period in question. Those conditions resulted in lifting restrictions, and required a position where she could sit, but Gallagher said Home Depot failed to accommodate those requests.
Gallagher also described how Tillotson, who at 58 was the oldest employee in her department, made a report to a Home Depot hotline about a large-scale buyer at the store receiving improper discounts.
“She wanted her Home Depot not to lose money. That’s how concerned about Home Depot Ms. Tillotson was,” Gallagher said, after previously telling jurors that Tillotson once said she was so loyal to the company she would “bleed Home Depot" if you cut her open.
Gallagher told jurors she would present evidence that Home Depot ultimately falsely accused Tillotson of the very same misconduct she had attempted to report as a way to avoid providing reasonable accommodations for an older, disabled worker.
Home Depot’s attorney, Charles Thompson, rejected those claims as merely “a story” and told jurors that Tillotson’s misconduct was uncovered as the result of regular audits performed throughout Home Depot stores, rejecting the argument that Tillotson was somehow targeted because of her actions or alleged disability.
Thompson told jurors that the entire staff in Tillotson’s department was fired, which he said clearly showed Home Depot’s actions were the result of trying to uniformly enforce company policies and not to retaliate against any specific individual.
Thompson also questioned whether or not Tillotson had actually lodged any complaints as a supposed whistleblower, describing to jurors how the company maintains a robust system for employees to report activities that violate Home Depot corporate policy.
“There’s no evidence at all. We’ve been through all the records,“ Thompson said.
The trial is taking place before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Terry Green, and is expected to take roughly two weeks to complete. The full proceedings are being webcast gavel-to-gavel by CVN.
The case is captioned Patricia Tillotson v. The Home Depot, case number BC601497.
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