Australian-founded enterprise software vendor, LiveTiles (ASX:LVT), is fighting a legal case in the United States launched by a former executive who is claiming more than US$25 million in damages over alleged discrimination and wrongful termination.
LiveTiles started life as a local tech start-up. A Microsoft partner, the company provides cloud-based digital workplace software for the commercial and education markets. While it is publicly-listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), it is now headquartered in the US.
Earlier this year, former LiveTiles executive, Anthony Girand, launched legal action against the company. Girand alleges that, following an extended illness, his employment with the company was terminated without reason by its co-founders, Karl Redenbach and Peter Nguyen-Brown.
According to a summons lodged with the New York County Supreme Court in May, Girand is claiming damages of more than US$25 million.
“Plaintiff, Anthony Girand, who while suffering from two forms of cancer, and in the middle of an extremely successful enterprise sales business at LiveTiles with clients such as Fox, Mars…and many others was terminated…without warning or reason,” the summons stated.
“[Girand] brings this case to recover damages at the hands of LiveTiles, Corp., and its related Australian entities…for compensatory damages of at least [US]$250,000, non-economic damages of at least [US]$5,000,000 and punitive damages of no less than $20,000,000,” it said.
LiveTiles refutes the allegations and denies any wrongdoing.
"LiveTiles is fully aware of a lawsuit that has been filed against it,” the company’s chief financial officer, Matt Brown, told ARN in a statement. “As LiveTiles has maintained from the inception of the case, the allegations are utterly without merit.
“LiveTiles intends to vigorously defend itself against these claims and to prove that they are frivolous,” he said.
Girand’s complaint and summons alleges that, after starting his role as “innovation executive” at LiveTiles in mid-February, he set out to build a “$1 million” annual subscription revenue book of business and, the summons claims, met with some success in his first few days in the role, closing deals with Fox and the Minnesota Twins, among others.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Girand held the position of managing director, vice president of NA (North America) at the company.
Girand claims that, at some point, he notified the company’s founders and human resources department that he had recently been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and MALT Lymphoma, and that he was undergoing radiation treatments.
According to court documents, Girand alleges that on 8 May, he was fired by the founders for no apparent reason.
“Girand was fired by Redenbach and Nguyen-Brown without warning or reason, other than ‘fit with the corporate culture’,” the court documents state.
It should be noted that Girand’s summons allege the LiveTiles founders chose to create an “Australian atmosphere” in its operations in the US, allegedly dedicating significant time and effort to the theme by “building a fully stocked bar with hard liquor and two [tapped] kegs in the lunch area which was ‘always open’”.
Ultimately, Girand alleges that he was treated unlike other employees at the company and that the founder “sought to make an example of him”.
In LiveTiles’ response to Girand’s summons, the company and its founders deny the bulk of the allegations.
For its part, LiveTiles alleges that Girand’s employment was terminated due to, “without limitation,” complaints from the company’s other employees about Girand’s “bullying and aggressive behaviour in the workplace,” along with complaints about Girand’s behaviouir from customers and clients.
LiveTiles also alleges unsatisfactory work performance.
Ultimately, LiveTiles alleges that Redenbach and Nguyen-Brown informed Girand that his employment was being terminated due to poor performance and over complaints about harassing and abusive behaviour.
In an amended complaint document, lodged with the court in late October, Girand alleges that the termination of his employment with LiveTiles was in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
The case continues.
In April, it was announced that former Microsoft executive, Doug Caywood, was appointed by LiveTiles as its new vice president, central USA, in a bid to spearhead the company's growth in the country's central states.
“I’m excited to be joining the team and truly believe this is an innovative product. I’m keen to start growing LiveTiles’ operations in the central US," Caywood said in a statement at the time.