Levesque Denies Belron US Allegations, Files Counterclaim for Damages in Excess of $1 Million; Alleges She, Family Members Being Followed
Former Belron US employee Michelle Levesque filed both her response to the company's complaint against her and a counterclaim against the company yesterday in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. In a suit filed in August, Belron US alleged that Levesque and an associate, Edward Lee, solicited Belron US employees to leave the company and join a new venture. (CLICK HERE for related story.)
Levesque denies the allegations made by Belron US against her, and, with regard to the claims made against Lee in the suit filed against her, claims to be "without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations."
Levesque, who originally worked for Diamond Glass and joined Belron US as part of its purchase of Diamond's assets in June 2008, says she originally signed a non-compete agreement with Diamond in July 1996, and again in February 1998, both of which contained an "18-month covenant not to compete or solicit employees."
In September 2005, however, Levesque became integration leader for the Kingston, Pa.-company, and was involved in integrating the Settles Glass team with that of Diamond.
"She never received, nor did she sign, a non-solicitation agreement or covenant not to compete in connection with this new position," reads the most recent filing, made on behalf of Levesque by her attorneys, Michael P. Boudett and Sheila O'Leary of Foley Hoag LLP in Boston. Likewise, Levesque claims that in July 2007, she again changed positions-to district manager for Massachusetts-and did not sign an employee or non-solicitation agreement with this new position either.
"The changes in Levesque's position, managerial status, compensation and duties and responsibilities vitiated the prior agreements with Diamond Triumph," reads the filing.
In the counterclaim, Levesque makes several allegations, including claims that Belron US required her to work during leave taken under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave earlier this summer, and did not pay her for doing so.
She also alleges that while employees did contact her to see if there would be possible employment opportunities with the former owner of Diamond Glass, Ken Levine, "she stated truthfully that she did not know if there would be any opportunities to work for Mr. Levine."
The counterclaim goes on allege that Belron "is concerned that Mr. Levine may start or expand a new auto glass business, and is taking active steps to deter him from doing so."
Levesque also alleges that since the filing of the suit, "Belron has recently caused someone to follow [her] and observe her whereabouts."
"In particular, during Levesque's recent visit to New York City, while she and others were in a parking lot where they were meeting Mr. Levine, Levesque observed an unknown individual in a vehicle pull into the parking lot and observe the group," alleges the complaint.
Likewise, the counterclaim claims Levesque's husband, Greg, who until recently was employed by Belron US, was followed by someone in a Safelite van. "Mr. Levesque became concerned and stopped his vehicle to try and speak with the driver and ask his purpose in following him," reads the complaint. "The individual refused to speak with Mr. Levesque and drove away."
Greg Levesque's employment with Belron was terminated in mid-September 2008, according to court documents, and his wife's complaint alleges that this termination was "part of [Belron's] ongoing campaign to pressure Mr. Levine not to operate a competitive business."
Levesque goes on to allege that "Belron has engaged in a series of tactics pressuring employees into providing false information about Levesque in support of its lawsuit against her."
"In particular, on information and belief, with regard to at least one employee, Belron procured a statement from her after offering monetary incentives in close conjunction with the request to sign the statement," reads the counterclaim. "On information and belief, the pendency of Belron's planned layoffs and the possibility of what would happen to her employment if she did not sign the statement was a factor in the employee signing the statement."
Levesque claims all of these alleged actions have resulted in "significant emotional distress, for which she has sought and received medical treatment."
The counterclaim includes counts of Abuse of Process, Defamation, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Violation of the FMLA Act.
Levesque is requesting that the Court dismiss Belron US Inc.'s complaint, and "that the appropriate judgment be entered in favor of Michelle Levesque on her counterclaims and that the Court order such further and other relief as this Court deems just and proper, including awarding Michelle Levesque damages in excess of $1,000,000 for emotional distress and the harm to her reputation, and also awarding treble damages and attorneys' fees."
CLICK HERE for full text of court document.
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