News

Lawsuit against Circus Club alleges age discrimination, retaliation

The former head of maintenance at the Menlo Circus Club who was fired last November is suing the exclusive Atherton club and its general manager, alleging that his firing was due to age discrimination and retaliation, and that he has been cheated out of the bonus he's owed.

Robert Crosby, 60, filed the lawsuit on May 7 in San Mateo County Superior Court. He had worked for the club at 190 Park Lane since 1978, and was promoted in 1989 to maintenance supervisor, placing him in charge of maintenance for all club facilities and a crew of 10 employees.

The lawsuit names the Menlo Circus Club and Christian Thon, the club's general manager.

An email request for comment sent to Mr. Thon on May 9 was not responded to. A Circus Club staff member told the Almanac that Mr. Thon is on vacation and unavailable until he returns.

Mr. Crosby's attorney, Yosef Peretz, declined to comment.

In the lawsuit, Mr. Crosby maintains he had "a positive working relationship" with all five general managers he worked for before Mr. Thon took over the position in 2009. Soon after Mr. Thon was hired, the lawsuit alleges, he began making comments about Mr. Crosby's "personality and appearance and continued to question his leadership and decision-making ..."

The lawsuit also alleges that in June 2013, Mr. Thon, who lives on the club's grounds, asked Mr. Crosby to move the fence line that divided his house from other portions of the grounds to allow him to increase the size of his yard. Mr. Crosby balked at the request, saying he wanted approval from the board of directors before making such a change, the lawsuit says. Mr. Crosby ultimately asked for board approval through proper channels, and the request was denied, according to the lawsuit.

"After that incident, Thon's harassment of (Mr. Crosby) dramatically increased," the lawsuit alleges.

After Mr. Crosby's firing, the lawsuit says, Mr. Thon sent an email to the other department heads informing them of the dismissal, and saying that he hoped the action would "force" Mr. Crosby to spend his time with his grandchildren, being the "granddad that he so naturally falls into."

Mr. Crosby is seeking payment of the bonus he says is non-discretionary and constitutes 15 percent of his salary; general damages, including for emotional distress and mental anguish; and punitive damages.

Mr. Crosby has been unable to find work since his firing, the lawsuit says.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by CTO
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 9:57 am

Thon needs to be taught a lesson. First he tried to get around the board to increase his housing allowance (by increasing the land avaivable to him as part of his compensation). THEN he fires a loyal, long time exemplary employee and SENDS AN EMAIL TO ALL EMPLOYEES stating his reason which is CLEARLY age-discrimination! (Total tool move, duh!) Did he get board approval to fire Mr. Crosby??

Email: Mr. Thon sent an email to the other department heads informing them of the dismissal, and saying that he hoped the action would "force" Mr. Crosby to spend his time with his grandchildren, being the "granddad that he so naturally falls into."

MR. THON is the one who needs to go, ASAP. Who wants to be a part of an exclusive club that has such a dysfunctional management and abuses its employees in such a manner??? The dysfunction is quite evident in the atmosphere in the club at present.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm

I'm surprised that the Almanac would print such a one sided piece. This obviously feels like a submission from Mr Crosby's lawyer.

I would imagine that an organization like the Circus Club would use a very thoughtful process in reviewing its employees before letting one go.

I wonder if the Almanac tried to get an opposing view? Or are they just trying to stir up controversy.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Defender of the Press
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Neighbor, the filing of an interesting lawsuit is an objective fact and news in itself and doesn't require rebuttal. It is the type of local fact that a newspaper like the Almanac should cover. It appears that the reporter attempted to get a comment from the Club and couldn't.

To "imagine that an organization like the Circus Club would use a very thoughtful process in reviewing its employees before letting one go" requires plenty of imagination. It's like assuming that all banks always treat their investors, depositors and borrowers fairly or that the Catholic Church scrupulously investigates all cases of abuse or that no doctor ever makes a medical mistake.

The Almanac didn't say the Club was at fault. It said the suit was filed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PRW
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on May 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm

I agree with Defender of the Press, this is local news and the Almanac is right to report it. The Circus Club chose not to respond, and will have its day in court.

As far as Bob Crosby, it's a sad turn of events. Crosby and some old guard members never accepted Christian's leadership, preferring the good old days with the good old boys in charge, and eventually it caught up and Crosby was terminated. Christian went out of his way to give Crosby a graceful and face saving transition, which was refused. What goes unstated is that Crosby's son James replaced him as the director of maintenance, and is doing a great job.

Christian's a great club manager and very highly regarded by members, staff and other clubs. I hope Bob Crosby comes to his senses and moves on.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ross Bridges
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm

[Post removed. Please don't use Town Square to make accusations against people.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by suzanne
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 21, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Mr. Crosby has been an outstanding employee of Menlo Circus Club. I have worked with both Circus Club employees on various occasions. Mr. Thon is an unpleasant person and difficult to work with. I agree with the other comments. Mr. Thon should have been the one fired.


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