Co-Founder Sues Own Engineering Firm for Unlawful Ouster and Retaliation After Cirrhosis Hospitalization

A Long Island New York engineering firm is being sued by one of its former principals for unlawful termination and retaliation upon his return to work after he was hospitalized for cirrhosis. He claims two co-founders cut his salary by over $100k before forcing him out.

Gregg J. Schiavone, a licensed engineer, established Robinson, Muller & Schiavone Engineers in 1999 with Christopher Robinson and Wayne Muller, according to the complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York.

As both a co-owner and employee of RMS, Schiavone claims he was an active member of RMS’s leadership and was influential and made important business decisions.  He received a salary of approximately $325,000 a year, annual distributions of the firm’s profits, and benefits such as paid time off, health insurance, an expense account, use of a firm car, internet and the ability to work from home.

In December 2016, Schiavone was diagnosed with cirrhosis and hospitalized for several weeks, according to the complaint.  Upon his return to work six weeks later he resumed ninety percent of his previous workload.

Immediately upon his return, Schiavone claims he was informed by Robinson and Muller that he would no longer be a salaried employee, instead he would be paid by the hour, reducing his annual income from $325,000 to approximately $175,000.  He was also informed that he would now be subjected to a six-month review period.

Schiavone was also excluded from participating in the management of RMS, shareholder meetings, review of the firm’s credit card records, or having access to RMS’s accountant, according to the complaint.  He also lost his expense account, company credit and debit cards, vacation pay, his ability to work from home or have his doctor visits covered by the company’s paid sick leave policy.

In May 2017 Schiavone submitted a formal, written complaint to RMS to protest the discrimination against him, according to the complaint.  Three weeks later he was terminated.

“Essentially, [Schiavone] asserts that he was discriminated against on the basis of his disability upon his return from medical leave.  [He] also asserts that he was subjected to retaliatory behavior based on his good faith complaints about the discriminatory treatment toward him and that such retaliation culminated in his wrongful discharge,” according to the complaint.

Schiavone is represented by Yasmin Soto of Huntington, New York.

RMS did not return a message requesting comment.