General Motors headquarters in Detroit. (Photo: Linda Parton/

A complaint alleging General Motors Financial Company Inc. abridged several employee protection laws is proceeding to federal court in Miami.

Judge Ursula Ungaro of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida was assigned on Thursday to the lawsuit brought by Jose Hernandez against GM. The case, which was initially filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in October 2018, accuses the multinational car corporation of violating the Family Leave and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.  It has now been removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

“Because plaintiff alleges federal claims under the ADA, ADEA, and the FMLA, this action is within the original federal question jurisdiction of the United States District Court,” the motion for removal to federal court said.

Requests for comment from Miami litigator Paul Penichet, GM’s defense attorney in the case, were not returned by deadline. Michelle Malcho, director of communications for Buick and GMC, also did not respond by press time.

Read the filing: 

According to the complaint, Hernandez was fired from his position with GM as dealer account executive of the Southeastern region on Aug. 2, 2017. Although the plaintiff had spent 16 years with the company and received accolades for his achievements, he was also troubled by substance abuse issues and mental health problems, according to his filing. Following an April 2017 crash that damaged his company vehicle, Hernandez began regularly receiving treatment from a physician through GM’s Employee Assistance Program.

Hernandez’s suit claims he was fired shortly after requesting time off, and confiding his struggles in Grace Mininberg, GM’s vice president of human resources. After Mininberg suspended the plaintiff on July 24, 2017, she then fired him via a phone call nine days later on Aug. 2.

Along with the charges GM failed to accommodate Hernandez’s conditions, the complaint also contends the “Defendant’s decisions to retaliate against and ultimately suspend and terminate Plaintiff were motivated by and based upon Plaintiff’s disclosure of … disabilities and requests for medical leave.”

Neither of Hernandez’s listed attorneys—Alexander Thomas Harne and Christopher Stearns Jr. with Fort Lauderdale law firm Johnson Anselmo Murdoch Burke Piper & Hochman—replied to requests for comment by deadline.

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