While most people believe that wine companies are concerned with the types of wine in their stock to sell to their customers, they also run into lawsuits from former employees on occasion. An employment attorney has been hired in the case of Melvin Juler who claims he was wrongfully dismissed from Chateau Montelena due to his age, medical treatments, and disability.
Juler was a long-time employee at Chateau Montelena, having worked for the company for 30 years as a landscaper and ground department manager. He filed his lawsuit three years after being terminated by the company in the Napa County Superior Court. In the lawsuit, he states that he was let go by the company when he revealed that he contracted Hepatitis C and needed a leave of absence to seek treatment.
Juler is seeking damages that include lost retirement, wages, and employee benefits. His filing of the lawsuit was preceded by complaints he filed to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in which he cited at least some of the allegations that are now in his lawsuit.
It is true that Juler was let off work from November 2014 to August 2015 to treat his illness. When he returned, Juler requested that the company offer a “reasonable accommodation” due to his illness. He was terminated from his position in January 2016. As part of the termination, it is alleged by the company that Juler sent an unprofessional email to a supervisor when he was on sick leave.
There are two sides to any lawsuit and for the most part only the allegations have been heard. It does bring up what the responsibilities of any company must be for an employee who has suffered from a serious illness. Plus, what accommodations must be made if they want to return and need accommodations that the job generally does not require.
What should be noted is that the company did grant sick leave to Juler which lasted for nearly 10 months, so that part of the story seems to support the fact that the company was willing to give their employee the time off that was needed. What is less clear is the actions of Juler and the company once he asked to return to work.
Chateau Montelena is a wine company that was made famous in 1976 during the Judgement of Paris tasting. That helps boost the company to prominence which it still enjoys today.
The hiring of an employment attorney in a case against a famous wine company is relatively rare, but not unheard of in this day and age. Age discrimination lawsuits are not uncommon, but it can be stated that given over 90% of all lawsuits end in a settlement that this case stands a good chance of ending before the jury can decide. For wine companies that are usually focused on the types of wine they offer their customers, having to deal with such lawsuits may become more common as the population of the US continues to age.