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Courtwatch: Former employee sues Chateau Montelena over dismissal

Allegations include age and disability discrimination
by Kerana Todorov
February 25, 2019

A former grounds department manager and landscaper at Chateau Montelena Winery has filed a lawsuit against the winery over his dismissal after 30 years of service, according to court records.

Melvin Juler of Angwin alleges age and disability discrimination led to his dismissal four years ago, according to his complaint filed late last month in Napa County Superior Court.

Juler, who was 63 when he was dismissed from the Napa Valley winery, also alleges he was fired for requesting a leave of absence for a medical condition, according to the court filing.

In November 2014, Juler took a leave of absence to be treated for Hepatitis C; he returned to work in August 2015 after completing his treatment, according to the complaint.

Juler alleged Chateau Montelena retaliated against him by terminating him based on his request for “a reasonable accommodation” for his medical condition, according to the complaint.

On the day Juler returned to work, his employer gave him letter regarding an allegedly unprofessional email Juler had sent his supervisor on March 17, 2015, while still on disability leave, according to the court filing.

Then in January 2016, Chateau Montelena informed Juler he would be terminated, according to the lawsuit.

The company asked Juler to stay for another six weeks to train his replacement who is in his 30s and “had no pruning experience,” according to the complaint.

Juler said he was “willing and able to perform the duties and functions of his position with or without a reasonable accommodation,” according to the complaint.

He seeks unspecified damages as well as lost wages, retirement and other employee benefits, according to court records.

Juler, who has no listed attorney, filed the lawsuit in Napa after the Department of Fair Employment and Housing issued him a “right-to-sue” notice which gave the plaintiff a year to file his lawsuit. Juler said he had “exhausted his administrative remedies by filing complaints with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing” against Chateau Montelena, according to the complaint.

Neither party could be reached to comment on the lawsuit.

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