Accounts payable

Racial discrimination lawsuit filed against Terlato Wine …

Napa County Upper Courthouse – historic courthouse. Photo by Kerana Todorov

An African-American woman filed a racial discrimination complaint against a wine company where she worked as a temporary employee, according to a complaint filed in Napa.

Kimberly Cunningham alleges that Terlato Wine Group Ltd. failed to prevent the harassment she suffered during her three-month tenure in 2018, according to the May 21 complaint in Napa County Superior Court. Terlato’s holdings in Napa include Rutherford Hill and Chimney Rock. The lawsuit also named individual managers.

The plaintiff was hired on August 10, 2018, on a temporary basis as an “accounts payable specialist” at Terlato to replace an employee on leave, according to court records. Cunningham had been placed in Terlato by Accountemps, a division of Robert Half. Cunningham, alleged that she was wrongly fired on November 6, 2018, according to the court record.

In his complaint, Cunningham claimed that managers and supervisors created a hostile work environment from the start, according to the lawsuit.

During her first week in Terlato, Cunningham, the only African American in the office, alleged that she was falsely accused of “making a mess and leaving ground coffee in the sink,” according to the complaint. Cunningham felt isolated, according to the lawsuit.

While other employees were never screened for how they washed the dishes in the office and never used the dishwasher, Cunningham was asked to use the dishwasher instead of washing dishes in the sink. , according to the complaint. Cunningham stopped using the shared kitchen after the office manager later falsely accused her of leaving a glass of wine by the sink, according to the complaint.

Cunningham was “very appalled” to learn that employees kept “shitty black-skinned dolls” in their desks’ drawers, according to the complaint. “The ‘fucking dolls’ were meant to be shaken, crushed, twisted and beaten when an employee felt stressed or upset,” according to the lawsuit.

Among other alleged incidents, Cunningham said she was once asked if her “weave was tight” “when she wore braids to work; she was unfairly reprimanded for not preparing supplier checks, a task that was not requested; Cunningham was called a “strong (black) woman” by the payroll clerk, according to the lawsuit.

Cunningham alleged that hostility and harassment towards her only increased after she raised her concerns of racial discrimination to the Comptroller, the woman she reported on, according to the complaint.

When Cunningham inquired about an available cost accountant position, she was told she “was not eligible because she was not an employee and the company” wanted people who wanted to. heard well ”, according to the trial.

The woman for whom Cunningham has been temporarily replaced is also African American. The woman, Tammy Barnes, told Cunningham that she too had been “subjected to racial discrimination and a hostile work environment by many of the same people who harassed Cunningham,” according to the complaint. Barnes was out of office under the Family and Medical Leave Act, according to the lawsuit.

Barnes told Cunningham she took leave “due to extreme emotional distress due to the treatment she received” with the defendants, according to the court file. When Barnes returned to work in early November, his position moved to Chicago; she was fired, according to the complaint.

Barnes showed Cunningham before leaving the company a “well-organized book” that would have been a guide for anyone in the line of duty, according to the lawsuit. “When Cunningham found out about this book, she was devastated. She had struggled to succeed in her position and the “manual” had not even been provided to her “, alleged the lawsuit.

Cunningham seeks unspecified damages, attorney fees and the cost of the lawsuit – more than $ 25,000, according to the lawsuit.

Terlato is the 34th largest vineyard in the United States, selling 615,000 cases per year, according to Wine Business Monthly. The company’s headquarters are located in the Chicago metropolitan area.

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