Sanford Heisler Kimpel Files $15 Million Lawsuit On Behalf Of Sales Representative Against Life Alert In New York State Court


Jan 28, 2016, 09:48 ET from Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP

NEW YORK, Jan. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP today filed a $15 million lawsuit in New York County Supreme Court against Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc., maker of the emergency alert system known for its motto, "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!"  The lawsuit alleges that the manager of Life Alert's New York City office, Gaby Gonen, spent years sexually harassing a female sales representative, plaintiff Irith Hayblum. 

The sexual harassment described in the complaint is explicit and graphic.  The complaint accuses Mr. Gonen of informing Mrs. Hayblum that he would do anything to get her into his bed and telling her salacious and sexually explicit jokes.  According to the complaint, Mr. Gonen graduated from sexually harassing words to forcible, unauthorized touching – Mr. Gonen is accused of repeatedly and inappropriately rubbing against Mrs. Hayblum, groping Mrs. Hayblum's breasts without her consent, and hugging and holding Mrs. Hayblum while warning her not to move. 

In one incident described in the complaint, Mr. Gonen cut up a picture of Mrs. Hayblum and her husband, told Mrs. Hayblum that he had to "have" her, and made hand movements near his groin simulating masturbation.  According to the complaint, after Mrs. Hayblum's husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Mr. Gonen continued his advances, telling Mrs. Hayblum that he would now take care of all of her sexual needs.

When Mrs. Hayblum steadfastly refused Mr. Gonen's depraved overtures, the complaint alleges, Mr. Gonen tried to quid pro quo Mrs. Hayblum. "If you'll be good to me," said Mr. Gonen to Mrs. Hayblum, "I'll be good to you." When Mrs. Hayblum refused to succumb to Mr. Gonen and protested his unlawful conduct, Mr. Gonen retaliated by withholding Mrs. Hayblum's access to call-ins from potential customers – which are crucial for Life Alert sales representatives to make sales and earn commissions.    

"Sexual harassment is standard operating procedure at Life Alert's New York City offices," said Jeremy Heisler, lead counsel for Mrs. Hayblum and partner and co-founder of Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP.  "Mrs. Hayblum was subjected to a textbook case of quid pro quo sexual harassment."

Mrs. Hayblum is the wife of Leon Hayblum, a former Life Alert sales manager who is also suing Life Alert in New York County Supreme Court.  That retaliation, breach of contract and age discrimination matter was filed by Mr. Hayblum against Life Alert in May 2015  Mr. Hayblum's complaint alleges that he was fired in part because he complained about Mr. Gonen's sexual harassment of Mrs. Hayblum and other female employees.  Mr. Hayblum is also represented by Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP.

Mrs. Hayblum's complaint says that Life Alert's CEO, Isaac Shepher, knew about, tolerated, and even encouraged the office manager's sexual harassment and retaliation, applauding Mr. Gonen as a "Casanova" with women.  When Mr. Gonen's sexual harassment of Mrs. Hayblum was brought to CEO Shepher's attention, he brushed it off, saying "She's an Israeli girl.  Israeli girls know how to take care of themselves." 

"It is unconscionable how Life Alert and its senior leaders condoned and encouraged the sexual harassment and retaliation inflicted on Mrs. Hayblum.  Defendants made Mrs. Hayblum's work environment so intolerable that she had no choice but to leave," said Alexandra Harwin, who is co-counsel on the case with Mr. Heisler. 

The complaint names Life Alert, CEO Isaac Shepher, co-founder Miriam ("Miri") Shepher, and New York general manager, Gaby Gonen a/k/a Gavriel Gonen, as defendants.  Mrs. Hayblum brings causes of action for sexual harassment, gender discrimination in pay, retaliation, constructive discharge, and national origin discrimination under the New York City and New York State Human Rights Law.  She also sues under the common law for the intentional and negligent infliction of mental distress and for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention.  Mrs. Hayblum seeks damages in excess of $15 million, including back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.

A jury trial is requested.

About Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP.

Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP is a national public interest class-action litigation law firm, which has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, and San Diego.  Sanford Heisler Kimpel specializes in employment discrimination, wage and hour, qui tam, and other civil rights matters. The firm has extensive experience in complex class action litigation, having successfully represented thousands of individuals in major class action cases in the United States. The firm also represents select individual clients such as executives, lawyers in employment disputes, and whistleblowers. The firm has recovered over $1 billion for its clients.  For more information, or contact Sanford Heisler Kimpel at (646) 402-5650.  For the latest news visit our newsroom or follow us on Twitter at @sanfordheisler.   

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SOURCE Sanford Heisler Kimpel, LLP