Being a personal assistant can be humbling work: fetching coffee, scheduling appointments, carefully monitoring and responding to the swinging moods of your boss. But the former assistant of a New York real estate broker claims that his working conditions were downright abusive, from brutal fines to bodily fluids, reports New York's Daily News. In a lawsuit filed with the state Supreme Court, he's seeking over $5 million in damages.
Jack Terzi hired Albert Sultan, 24, soon after Terzi founded his company in 2009. A seven-year veteran of the industry at that point, Terzi (pictured above) was known as brash and risk-taking. After all, he started his own firm, JTRE, as the housing market was imploding.he told Crain's New York Business, a month after he opened the company's doors. But according to the lawsuit, Terzi dumped a lot of that work on the shoulders of his underlings, and Sultan in particular.
Sultan's contract required that he work 12-hours a day, five days a week, plus 26 Sundays per year, according to the lawsuit. There allegedly were no sick days or vacation time, and he would be fined $15 for every minute he was late in the morning, $30 for every minute he left early, and $1,000 for every Sunday shift that he skipped.
But the reality was far worse, Sultan claims. Not only was he cheated out of six months of wages, as well as $129,320 in commissions, but he alleges that his boss showered him with insults, like "f***ing idiot" and "piece of s***," as well as objects, such as a shoe, a stapler and a pair of scissors. Sultan also claims that Terzi repeatedly sneezed on him "in a contemptuous fashion," physically assaulted and bit him, and once urinated on a piece of his clothing in front a third party.
Terzi's attorney contends that the accusations in Sultan's lawsuit are completely unfounded. In a countersuit, Terzi accuses his former assistant of stealing confidential information and gathering up clients and deals before quitting on June 12 to launch his own company.
"In an attempt to distract the court from his wrongdoing, Mr. Sultan has responded with a baseless and personal attack on Mr. Terzi," said an attorney from the law firm of Sills Cummis & Gross.
State Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos will hear the warring parties on Aug. 23 -- just the latest high profile case in which a personal assistant faced off against a boss over alleged abuse. Among other recent ones:
Lady Gaga's former personal assistant sued the singer's touring company in December 2011 for $380,000 in unpaid overtime and unspecified damages, claiming that she had no breaks for meals -- and, sometimes, sleep -- because of the oppressive demands of her superstar boss.
And in July, Courtney Love's former assistant filed a lawsuit, claiming that the musician fired her after the assistant complained about thousands that she was owed in unpaid wages.
These lawsuits can sometimes end in big payouts. When the former assistant of Tommy Lee, the drummer of heavy metal band Motley Crue, sued his old boss for defamation and unpaid wages, among other things, he won a settlement of $400,000, as well as a public apology.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story at one point confused the names of the parties in case, saying that Sultan's attorney contends that the accusations in former assistant's lawsuit are unfounded, and that Sultan had filed the countersuit.
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