A former employee of the Sapir Organization claims her old boss retaliated against her after she failed to find a “smoking gun” implicating one of Alex Sapir’s enemies.
Patricia Lemanski, who worked as a paralegal at the real estate firm for nearly 10 years, alleges that the Sapir Organization directed her to dig up dirt on her former supervisor at the company: ex-general counsel Omer Rosen, whom Sapir had been feuding with.
The firm gave Lemanski access to company files to find proof of misconduct, she claims in a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court last week. But after the probe failed to turn up anything, Lemanski was fired and the Sapir Org. filed a federal lawsuit accusing her of stealing files that competitors could use to undercut the company’s business.
In her lawsuit, Leamanski claims that Sapir’s legal action was merely cover for firing her, and meant as a chilling message to the company’s rivals.
Sapir’s attorney, Terrence Oved of Oved & Oved, said in a statement to The Real Deal that the federal court had already rejected Lemanski’s claims of retaliation.
“This suit is a shameless attempt to reinvent those allegations and forum shop them to a different court,” he added. “We are confident that this second bite at the apple will also be rejected.”
The company “properly terminated this employee for misconduct,” he said.
After Rosen was fired, Sapir replaced him as general counsel with Lonica Smith, who is about 10 years younger than Lemanski.
Lemanski claims in her lawsuit that Smith “viewed Lemanski as a threat given her status as an older woman with extensive experience with Sapir,” and reassigned the company veteran to lower-level tasks. Lemanski alleged that Smith — who is named as a co-defendant in the suit alongside the company — replaced her with someone 20 years younger.
Lemanski also alleges she was being discriminated against based on her age and religion. (Lemanski is non-Jewish, while the Sapir family is Jewish.)
Sapir received a temporary restraining order it had sought and withdrew its federal lawsuit shortly after filing, but Lemanski claims the damage was already done: She says she was turned down by two other job prospects.
“The Federal Action succeeded in its true objective: wrongfully obtaining Lemanski’s personal information, forcing Lemanski out of [the company] without compensation and sending a clear message to Sapir’s rivals . . . that Sapir would resort to any means necessary to cause them harm,” Lemanski’s attorneys wrote in the complaint.
She is suing for unspecified damages.