3 min read

Addison Group Manager Fired - Lawsuit Follows

Bonus dispute with CEO triggers retaliation and defamation claims

Dak Gilinski, the former Managing Director of Addison Group's Los Angeles office, has filed a multi-count lawsuit against the company after being terminated following a dispute with Addison's CEO, Thomas B. Moran, over his 2023 bonus. Gilinski's 2023 Compensation plan (attached as an exhibit to the Complaint, copied below) called for a $50,000 non-discretionary bonus for hitting his target and "Additional incentive at CEO discretion," up to $75,000.

The Complaint asserts:

On Friday, February 2, 2024, DAK sent an e-mail to Moran. In this message, DAK pointed out that the Orange County business unit had exceeded its Gross Profit target by 7.3% and he asked Moran how much he would receive for the "CEO discretionary amount" and when the bonus would be paid.
On Monday, February 5, 2024, Moran replied to DAK's February 2 message saying, in part, "Your bonus is zero and the CEO discretionary bonus is zero."

Gilinski was like:

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The Complaint continues:

On Monday, February 12, 2024, DAK replied to Moran's February 5 message writing, in part: "I was distressed to receive this e-mail last week. I understand other areas of performance may impact your decision with respect to the discretionary portion beyond the earned bonus of $75k, and I believe that is reasonable ... However, the memo lays out clear, measurable objectives which I achieved. In California law, this is called an 'earned bonus' and must be paid."

The non-discretionary bonus in his plan was actually $50,000, but that still is a lot more than "zero." According to the Complaint, further discussions ensured between Gilinski and another Addison senior executive about the bonus, during which Gilinski was urged to drop his request, but refused to do so. Eventually, the Complaint recites, the executive advised him that the $50,000 non-discretionary sum would be paid, but in the same conversation informed him that he was terminated.

Of note, California Labor Code Section 98.6 forms the basis of Count I in the Complaint and reads in pertinent part: "A person shall not discharge an employee or in any manner discriminate, retaliate, or take any adverse action against any employee or applicant for employment ... because the employee made a written or oral complaint that he or she is owed unpaid wages."

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Gilinski's LinkedIn profile describes his Addison tenure as follows:

I joined the firm during a time of instability and led the Los Angeles market to significant growth, culminating in the sale of the firm to Addison Group in 2019. I was then tapped to lead Los Angeles and Orange County in 2020, and doubled revenues and profitability in both markets over the next three years.

During my time at DLC, I hired 200+ consultants and generated $50M+ in sales. I built a focused, winning culture and created a best in class team to ensure the future of the business.

According to the Complaint, Gilinski was paid over $840,000 in 2023, including the $50,000 performance bonus. He has recently founded his own staffing firm in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit contains counts alleging wrongful discharge, retaliation, defamation, and breach of contract. The defamation claim arises out of management statements allegedly made explaining the reasons for Gilinski's termination:

On information and belief, the general substance of these defamatory statements includes false express and implied assertions also including insinuation and innuendo that PLAINTIFF'S performance was deficient, his attitude was detrimental to his employer, and that he engaged in unspecified misconduct or other impropriety.

Lawsuits of this nature can be quite unpleasant for the former employer. Involvement of the CEO as a fact witness is never desirable, and with California's punitive employment laws, the unpleasantness is multiplied. This one will go on our follow list.