Former AngioDynamics manager Joseph Pierre sued Latham, N.Y.-based AngioDynamics in May 2012, claiming that, as 1 of only 2 black employees at AngioDynamics, he was unfairly demoted from his managerial role. AngioDynamics maintained that Pierre was not demoted at all, counter-claiming that Pierre owed the company relocation costs because he left his role prematurely to take take a job at Covidien (NYSE:COV).
Pierre joined AngioDynamics in March 2010 as a research & development manager, handling the company’s "Plastic Port" project, according to court documents. About 1 year into his role, he claimed, he was demoted and stripped of his duties as manager and supervisor. He said that he’d never received a negative performance review, but was told that he was being reassigned because his project was behind schedule.
The complaint accuses AngioDynamics of leaving Pierre’s title intact, but effectively demoting him to an "associate engineer" role devoid of decision-making authority or management duties. AngioDynamics told him he’d be assigned to a different project that turned out not to exist, Pierre alleged. Meanwhile, white colleagues in similar positions were treated differently, according to the documents.
"At least 6 other Caucasian program or project managers were behind in the completion of their projects," according to Pierre’s complaint. "These individuals, however, were not reassigned or removed from their projects."
After his resignation from AngioDynamics in July 2011 Pierre dual-filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Those allegations were dismissed in early 2012, when investigators returned a finding of "no probable cause." In May 2012, Pierre took his case to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, the records show.
In court filings, AngioDynamics denied almost everything about Pierre’s story, maintaining that all company actions were taken for "legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons." The company also leveled counter-claims accusing Pierre of quitting his job to take a similar role at Covidien, documents show. AngioDynamics also claimed that Pierre "wrongfully misappropriated AngioDynamics’ trade secrets and confidential information for his own personal benefit and for the benefit of Covidien," according to court records.
Pierre allegedly used the company’s trade secrets to his own benefit in his new role at Covidien, according to AngioDynamics’ counter-claim. Both Pierre and AngioDynamics agree that he sent multiple emails to his own and his wife’s email accounts, but differed on whether he has since returned them as agreed; Pierre signed an affidavit that he sent the records back, and claimed he transmitted them back to AngioDynamics through his lawyer, but the company claimed he never returned all of the documents. Pierre claimed the content of the emails contained nothing confidential, but AngioDynamics alleged that he grabbed "confidential information such as the status, specifications, planned completion dates of various inventions in various stages of completion," according to the records.
AngioDynamics further claimed that the company paid more than $39,000 in relocation costs, under a contract stipulating that Pierre would repay 50% of those expenses if he left prior to March 2012 – meaning Pierre owes nearly $20,000 to the medtech firm, the counter-claim alleges.
Pierre asked the court for recompense for "discriminatory treatment," including back wages, bonuses, health insurance benefits, stock options and other compensation. He also asked that the court award him $1 million for "damages to reputation and damages for humiliation and mental anguish."
In its counter-suit, AngioDynamics asked that Pierre pay for damages resulting from misappropriation of confidential information and trade secrets and for the relocation costs owed for Pierre’s early departure from the company, as well as legal fees incurred during the course of the lawsuit.
In October 2013 both parties agreed to dismiss the lawsuit "with prejudice and without costs to either party as against the other." Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but AngioDynamics said in a quarterl regulatory filing that it believes Pierre’s accusations were "without merit."
AngioDynamics declined to comment on the case.