The Inbox, Snowquester Edition

| William A. Schreiner, Jr.

Here at the SuitsbySuits Tower in Washington, D.C., we’re closing the week of the Snowquester that Wasn’t, a snowstorm that could have given us a large thumping of snow but turned out to be…well, more disappointing than a playoff loss by you-know-who.  The chatter about the storm has, though, led to a rare mea culpa by a prominent weather blog and pretty much kicked off the Virginia governor’s race in a dispute over one candidate’s tweet about safety in the snow. 

In any event, things other than a poem-inducing non-blizzard happened this week, and here are the highlights:

Can’t blame Cousin Eddie for this one: National Lampoon is suing its former CEO, Tim Durham, alleging Durham embezzled $1 million from a settlement between National Lampoon and Warner Brothers, and sent it on to the attorney who was representing him against a securities fraud claim. 

From the “Generally Not Recommended Practice” Department: Audra Lucas, a former secretary at the Ventura County, California Medi-Cal Commission, was allegedly spanked by the Commission’s CEO.  As if that’s not bad enough, when she complained to the Commission’s HR administrator, the administrator allegedly said, “I can see why this would be exciting to you.”  Not surprisingly, this is now the subject of Lucas’ sexual harassment and wrongful termination suit against the Commission. 

What do you mean Thompson Twins aren’t hip anymore: A popular vocal teacher at the School of Rock music school in California has sued it for age discrimination, alleging she was terminated because, being over 40 years old, she was no longer “young and hip” enough to work for the school. 

Plus, they have the Mall of America, not to mention all those lakes: Following on our coverage of California’s prohibition on non-compete clauses, add Minnesota to the list of states considering outlawing them – this bill in the Minnesota legislature would do just that.  An earlier proposal to do this didn’t pass four years ago.   

Everything is bigger in Texas, except whistleblower rights:  The Texas Supreme Court released two opinions in late February that limit whistleblower protections.  The takeaway from both Texas A&M-Kingsville v. Moreno and University of Texas S.W. Medical Center at Dallas v. Gentilello is that, in order to obtain protection as a whistleblower, the reporting person must make the report to “an appropriate law enforcement authority,” not merely “an entity charged with mere internal adherence to the law.”

Beverage Aisle, No. 1: Red Wine: The debate over the health benefits (or lack thereof) of drinking red wine has now come, at least derivatively, into the employment law field.  After the University of Connecticut determined that researcher Dipak Das had “committed research misconduct” in journal articles on the benefits of red wine, it fired him.  In a suit filed in Connecticut state court, Das claims that UConn notified the journals of his misconduct as a means of coercing him to settle his wrongful termination claim against it; he is seeking reinstatement and lost wages, and also wants UConn to rescind its notification to the journals of his misconduct.  

Beverage Aisle, No. 2:  Tea: Herbal tea company SereniGy is suing former marketer Jonathan Mendoza in Florida state court, alleging Mendoza not only made slanderous remarks about its executives – for which, it says, it fired him – but that after he was fired Mendoza tried to steal customers and hire its staffers for his own company.  SereniGy wants $28 million, which is an awful lot of tea.