A US company has sued one of its former employees over allegations she “quiet quit” her job despite still raking in her $400,000 salary – a move that has prompted the ex-staffer to file her own lawsuit in response.
New York personal injury litigation firm Napoli Shkolnik has taken legal action against one of its own former lawyers, Heather Palmore, accusing her of taking advantage of the company’s remote work options to promote her own legal firm, The Palmore Group P.C.
In the New York Supreme Court filing, Napoli Shkolnik accused Palmore, who was the company’s chief trial counsel, of breach of contract, along with breach of fiduciary duty of loyalty, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty of loyalty, injurious falsehood, unjust enrichment, declaratory judgment, and constructive trust.
Legal documents allege that “in the pursuit of personal pecuniary gain” Palmore misrepresented her skill set, experience and “book of business” in order to obtain her position at Napoli Shkolnik.
The documents claim that, once in the role, she “took advantage of the new remote work environment to ‘quiet quit’ her job, and simultaneously worked for two law firms at once, both Plaintiff and the Defendant Palmore Law Group, in violation of her Employment Agreement and New York law”.
The “quiet quitting” workplace trend has become immensely popular in recent times and is essentially a rejection of the idea that work has to take over your life and that you, as an employee, should be going above and beyond in your role.
Instead, people following the trend are encouraged to do the bare minimum by only performing the duties outlined in their job description and politely declining to take on any more responsibilities outside of that or work longer hours than necessary.
The lawsuit referenced quiet quitting and working multiple jobs remotely as workplace “trends” that the legal firm claims Palmore “wrongfully joined”.
Napoli Shkolnik claimed that, despite “collecting one of the most substantial draws in the entire firm”, the ex-employee was performing “little to no work” while also “directly competing” with the firm by running and promoting Palmore Law Group, P.C.
“These actions were in direct violation of her employment agreement, in breach of her fiduciary duty of loyalty to Napoli Shkolnik and designed to enrich herself at Napoli Shkolnik’s expense,” the lawsuit stated
As a result, the law firm is seeking to have Palmore repay the more than $400,000 in compensation she allegedly received from the company during her “period of disloyalty”.
The lawsuit also asks for prejudgement and post-judgment interest, lawyer fees, putative damages and monetary damages.
Napoli Shkolnik alleged that computer records demonstrate there were days when Palmore was active on her computer for “mere minutes”, including the “overwhelming majority of workdays in 2023”.
This is despite the lawyer allegedly submitting daily time records “falsely representing that she spent hours performing legal research and drafting and ‘outlining’ documents”.
“In shocking fashion, in some instances Palmore fabricated and submitted blatantly false daily time records representing that she had already completed a full day’s work before business hours,” the lawsuit states.
The company also accused Palmore of attempting “to extort money from the firm” once her “scheme” had been uncovered by “making false and defamatory claims of discrimination directed to ‘others’ without any factual basis”.
However, Palmore tells a very different story of how the situation unfolded, filing her own lawsuit just days after her ex-employer, claiming she was “subjected to and witnessed egregious race and disability discrimination by senior management”.
In the lawsuit, Palmore brands her bosses as “boorish bullies” and alleged the firm began retaliating against her after she complained of racial discrimination in 2022, treating her like a “complete pariah” and “enemy” ever since.
“Ms. Palmore has had the courage to speak out against discrimination at the Firm and has made been made to suffer for it, with the Napoli Pre-emptive Lawsuit filed against her – just the latest in an ongoing string of retaliatory acts,” the lawsuit states.
Palmore also hit back at claims she “quiet quit”, with court documents branding it one of the company’s “countless bald-faced lies”.
The lawyer instead claimed she “lost” access to the firm’s network a day after Napoli Shkolnik received a letter from a lawyer and learned Palmore had retained counsel as she had intended to files claims against the company in December.
“It is devoid of logic to assert that Ms. Palmore could take advantage of a remote work system that she did not have access to,” the complaint says, adding she had to work daily, in-person at firm’s office.
Palmore is seeking an unspecified amount of damages from her former employer.
The lawyer representing Palmore, David Gottlieb, told Law.com that Napoli Shkolnik filed their “completely bogus pre-emptive lawsuit” only after his client raised “serious claims of discrimination against the firm and was preparing to file her own action”.
“This pre-emptive lawsuit is a transparent and ill-advised attempt to try to gain some perceived strategic advantage, but it is obviously an act of blatant retaliation,” he said in a statement.
“We will be moving forward with Palmore’s lawsuit in short order, which will include claims based on this retaliatory conduct.”
The lawyer representing Napoli Shkolnik, Lucas Markowitz, told the same publication that Palmore’s filing continues her “pattern of false statements in her efforts to shakedown the firm for money”.
“It is precisely these types of outlandish falsehoods that undermine real claims of discrimination and hurt the true victims of unlawful employer conduct. Palmore is happy to sacrifice these victims to pad her own pockets,” he said.