Hallmark manager is fired for using ‘f’ word on his day off, California lawsuit says

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A California man who worked at Hallmark for nearly 15 years was fired last summer for using the “f” word over the phone on his day off, a new lawsuit says.

However, the true reason Rohn La Coria lost his job as Hallmark’s West Coast district manager has nothing to do with him dropping the “f-bomb,” according to an April 29 news release announcing the lawsuit.

Hallmark illegally fired La Coria because he spoke up about how some employees were paid less than minimum wage, according to his complaint filed April 29 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

La Coria argues that his firing over profanity was simply a pretext — and that “colorful language” is commonly used by other Hallmark employees in the workplace.

“While Hallmark most definitely makes a difference in the lives of others, Hallmark’s difference worsens the lives of certain vocal employees who complain of Hallmark’s wrongdoing,” the complaint states.

La Coria, who lives in Los Angeles, is suing Hallmark and his former manager for retaliation, wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair business practices.

Hallmark didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on April 30.

“There’s a stark contradiction within Hallmark’s operations,” said attorney Ilya Filmus of Infinity Law Group in San Francisco, who represents La Coria.

“Despite the company’s wholesome facade, we found a workplace culture steeped in the very profanity they claim to have fired Mr. La Coria for,” Filmus said in the news release. “His firing wasn’t about profanity. It was about his concern over wage violations and daring to speak up on behalf of his workforce.”

An offer for $15,000 in exchange for ‘silence’

According to the lawsuit, Hallmark began paying some of its employees in Los Angeles County less than minimum wage in July 2023.

La Coria told Hallmark of his concerns that this was illegal, the complaint says.

The minimum wage in Los Angeles County has been $16.90 per hour since July 2023.

After La Coria emailed his manager saying he disagreed with Hallmark’s pay practices on July 20, 2023, she “berated him” the next day, when he was off from work, according to the complaint.

While he was on the road to bring his spouse to the airport, his manager called him to “attack (his) point of view, loyalty, and leadership,” the complaint says.

During the conversation, he said the “f” word out of frustration, according to his attorney.

“He was frustrated by the incessant badgering, so he used the f-word in his assessment of the situation and how he felt, but did not direct it towards his manager in any way,” Filmus said.

La Coria was fired a few days later, on July 25, according to the complaint.

Then, Hallmark offered him $15,000 in exchange for his “silence” after firing him — and to dissuade him from pursuing legal action, the lawsuit says. The company said the offer “was to secure his silence regarding the confidential information that he possessed pertaining to Hallmark’s handling of COVID-related issues,” the suit says.

Does Hallmark have a ‘culture of profanity’?

According to the complaint, multiple Hallmark employees, including La Coria’s manager — who once said that the “f” word was “one of her favorite words” — used profanity.

“Hallmark’s culture of profanity reverberated to employees at all levels,” the complaint says.

The former CEO of Hallmark’s retail division is accused of using “colorful language” during meetings with employees.

The complaint says he had been heard asking: “what the (expletive) is this product” and “who the (expletive) approved this (expletive).”

La Coria’s “boss’ boss” once stated out loud “how ‘(expletive) ridiculous’ it was that California’s laws differed from Kansas’ regarding the use of marijuana” while visiting the state, according to the complaint.

A month before he was fired, La Coria’s manager told him she was “(expletive) impressed” with him, and also “confessed that she was trying to stop using the ‘f’ word so much,” the complaint says.

The “only stated reason” Hallmark fired La Coria was because he used the ‘f’ word while speaking with his manager, according to the complaint.

“Given the proliferate amount of profanity embedded in Hallmark’s culture, this reason can be seen as nothing other than as pretext to hide Defendant’s wrongful and illegal termination of Mr. La Coria in retaliation for his complaints of labor violations by Hallmark,” the complaint says.

With his lawsuit, La Coria seeks to recover an unspecified amount in damages.

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