Jury Awards Nearly $21M In Wrongful Termination Suit

August 22, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A former United Parcel Service (UPS) manager, who was fired for allegedly falsifying a worker's time sheet, has been awarded almost $21 million in a wrongful termination suit.

The Los Angeles Times reports that UPS fired Michael Gnesda in 2002 for allegedly deducting one minute from the time sheet of one of his workers. Gnesda claimed he was actually fired in retaliation for his efforts to stop excessive surcharges he says UPS was charging customers shipping odd-sized packages.

According to the suit, in the early 1990s, Gnesda was working in the company’s business development office when he uncovered “serious internal problems involving overcharging of customers.” After complaining to superiors and helping a customer write a letter of complaint in 2000, he was transferred to operations, according to one of his attorneys quoted in the report.

Punitive Patterns

“Thereafter, UPS and its senior managers embarked on a pattern of punitive job assignments and sanctions, intended to induce [Gnesda] to quit,” the suit said. Another of his attorneys, David Wiechert, said that after Gnesda refused to quit, UPS made up a charge that he reported three hours and 59 minutes instead of four hours on a worker’s time sheet as grounds to fire him.

UPS spokeswoman Heather Robinson disputed Gnesda’s claim, and said Gnesda altered a time sheet to avoid being mentioned in a “report that would reflect poorly” on his oversight of his subordinates’ work hours, according to the LA Times.

Gnesda was awarded $748,000 in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages. Robinson told the Times that UPS is weighing an appeal.