LOS ANGELES, Nov. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A wrongful termination lawsuit, filed by attorneys Lisa Sherman of Sherman Law Corporation, Los Angeles, and Pamela Teren, Teren Law Group, Los Angeles, on behalf of their client, Francis Castagnetti, against Jeffrey Best, a prominent celebrity event planner/club and restaurant/club owner and Best's longtime business partner, Ken Jones, includes an almost 200-page complaint that vividly details 18 causes of action.
Castagnetti worked for the duo for more than 10 years in several capacities, most recently as the general manager for the well-known upscale eatery, Firefly in Studio City.
According to Sherman, the lawsuit resulted over her client's dispute with Jones and Best when they tried to skirt the provisions of the California family leave and disability laws by forcing Castagnetti to work from home, as soon as he was diagnosed with shingles in early August 2014. Demanding that Castagnetti return to his regular position immediately if he wanted to keep his job, Castagnetti attempted to return to work, but his physician refused to medically release him. Though ill and feeling highly pressured, Castagnetti met with Best and Jones for the last time. When Castagnetti gave Best and Jones his physician's note and he told them he needed to take family leave. Best took him off payroll, summarily fired two of Castagnetti's close friends so Firefly was two employees short of the number needed to be covered by family leave laws, and then fired him.
"The wrongful termination claim is just the tip of the iceberg," said Sherman, whose complaint discloses numerous health and safety violations, building code infractions, workers' compensation and property insurance transgressions, tax evasion, threats, fraud, co-mingling of funds and entities, falsifying records, retaliation and coercion. "My co-counsel and I were appalled at what we discovered as we gathered evidence for this case," said Teren. "We were shocked at what we learned had been going on at these highly-reputed establishments and their egregious acts against the countless number of employees who had been victims of their unlawful treatment."
In their pleadings, Sherman and Teren painstakingly cite precise details of incidents that one might only find in a Hollywood film script. "There were cover-ups, threats, coercion, fraud, and a number of other improprieties," Teren explained. One incident describes the details of when Castagnetti was ordered to report to work at 7 a.m. to let in construction crews. He had only gotten off work from his prior 20-plus hour shift at 4 a.m. that same day after starting work mid-morning the day before. The complaint asserts that Castagnetti rarely had a day off at all from mid-May 2014 until he was diagnosed with shingles in August of that year.
The defendants, who own a number of posh establishments throughout Southern California, many of which are frequented by variety of A-list celebrities, include four restaurants: Habana in L.A. and another soon to open in Irvine; Mesa in Costa Mesa; Firefly in Studio City; Power House and the Dark Room in Hollywood; and Tiki No (formerly known as Match) in North Hollywood. They also own and operate the Warwick, a posh nightclub where guests are only admitted if they are listed on the establishment's "pre-qualified" roster. Customers and clients who frequent their establishments and hire them to plan A-list events include, Jimmy Fallon, Madonna and Jody Foster, to name but a few. Some of the events Jones and Best have planned include the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, and various Academy Award events, among a number of other star-studded events.
"They treated their employees in the most deprecating way and intimidated them into not taking breaks. Sometimes certain individuals were made to do the work of three people," Sherman stated. The complaint contends that on many occasions, Jones and Best sought to sustain a glamorous image by spending lavishly on remodels and decor, but refused to pay expected bonuses. "They boasted that they spent hundred of thousands of dollars on Firefly's remodel, which included importing specially-milled wood from a farmhouse in St. Louis that was used for the floors, tables and bar tops. Yet, the cost of outfitting the facility with proper and required fire safety systems ranged from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars," she said.
Over the years, several of Castagnetti's family members were hired on by Best and Jones, all of whom were also required to work under egregious conditions and a tyrannical rule. They no longer work for Best and Jones.
Teren and Sherman look forward to presenting their case to a jury. "Best and Jones need to answer for what they have done," said Sherman. "We look forward to when we can seek justice for our client and in so doing, we hope to make Best and Jones treat all of their employees fairly. We want to see that their restaurants become a better and safer place for both their employees and customers alike."
SOURCE Lisa Sherman of Sherman Law Corporation; Pamela Teren, Teren Law Group, Los Angeles