Ex-Apple Retail Store Manager Sues Employer for Discrimination

Apple Inc. removed an employment complaint for disability discrimination and retaliation to federal court in Washington, D.C. last Friday. According to the plaintiff, Melissa Lynch, her supervisor illegally harassed and fired her after she took medical leave in 2019 and 2020.

The filing explained that Apple hired Lynch as a Senior Manager at Apple’s Bethesda, Maryland retail store in or about 2010.  Lynch reportedly obtained a series of promotions throughout her time with Apple. From 2017 through her termination in August 2020, the plaintiff reported directly to Heidee Albany, the filing stated.

According to the complaint, Albany unfairly criticized Lynch’s performance beginning in February 2019 and subsequently warned the plaintiff that she might be placed on a “documented coaching” plan. Lynch responded by reporting that Albany was targeting her for harassment, the first of two unsuccessful attempts to report her supervisor’s alleged misconduct internally.

In June 2019, the filing stated, Lynch was placed on the performance improvement plan. In July, Lynch purportedly took a week off due to anxiety and panic attacks precipitated by Albany’s harassment. When she returned, the plaintiff was allegedly told that Albany was extending Lynch’s documented coaching because Albany herself had been out on a leave of absence.

The extension reportedly prevented Lynch from receiving a $6,000 bonus for meeting performance objectives for April, May, and June, a period that predated the coaching implemented by Albany. According to the complaint, in the fall of 2019, after being diagnosed with stress-induced gastritis precipitated by Albany’s harassment, Lynch took a District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA) absence.

When she returned from her absence on Apr. 1, 2020, Albany implemented a “re-emersion plan” for Lynch, the filing stated. The harassment, the specifics of which are undisclosed, reportedly continued after Lynch’s return. In August 2020, Lynch was fired for reasons that are also unstated, according to the complaint.

As a result of her allegedly illegal treatment and termination, the plaintiff claimed she suffered economic harm and mental anguish. Lynch brings four labor law violations under District of Columbia statutes for the purported discrimination and retaliation for taking DCFMLA leave. The complaint requested various damages, equitable relief, and the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees and costs.

The plaintiff is represented by The Employment Law Group PC, and Apple by Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C.