The Villages is fighting the release of company email in connection with ex-sales representatives’ fight for back pay.
Former Properties of The Villages top producers Christopher Day and Jason Kranz appeared to have scored a major victory in October when a federal judge adopted a federal magistrate’s finding that they and their associates were not bound by non-compete agreements The Villages had been holding over their heads.
The non-compete agreements have been a powerful weapon wielded by the Jennifer Parr-led sales arm of Florida’s Friendliest Hometown. In addition to Kranz and Day, it was also a victory for Angela Kranz, Cynthia Hughes, Nanette Elliott, Angie Taylor and Kelly Shipes, who defected from Properties of The Villages and joined startup KD Premier Realty. They had to dig into their own pockets for parties and birthday cards for potential buyers.
Now, the former sales representatives are fighting for back pay they claim they are owed by The Villages. All have given detailed depositions describing uncompensated overtime, mandatory trolley rides, mandatory sales meetings and even being treated like Uber drivers and skycaps for would-be homebuyers arriving on the Lifestyle Preview Plan.
Day has estimated he is owed $1.47 million in back wages, according to a deposition he gave earlier this year.
However, he and the others have argued in court that they cannot properly calculate what they are owed without access to information from Properties of The Villages.
The Villages is arguing that the request from the former sales representatives is too difficult to fulfill.
Properties of The Villages attorney Patrick Muldowney said that 178,388 email would have to be resurrected and turned over in the case.
“The manual review and production of over 178,000 emails would be enormously expensive and wholly disproportionate to the needs of the case,” Muldowney wrote in a legal document filed Nov. 16 in U.S. District Court in Ocala.
Properties of The Villages is hoping to reduce the number of email to 7,582 by limiting the number of “email hits” to a list of search terms it has proposed. The search terms include the names of Jennifer Parr, Bobby Gulati and Mike Berning, “three high-level individuals associated with Properties of The Villages who had contact with Defendants.”
Other proposed search terms are “trolley,” “Morse,” “Gary Lester,” “vote,” “campaign,” “bonus,” “commissions” and “AS400.” Gary Lester is The Villages vice president of community relations who is said to have instructed the sales force to vote for political candidates supported by The Villages. The AS400 is the computer system used by Properties of The Villages.
Properties of The Villages has asked for a mid-December extension of time to turn over text messages in the case. Text messages are being sought from Parr, Berning, and Gulati as well as Properties of The Villages brass Jeff Zimmerman, Brian Dees, Sara Cichielo, Tim Harding, Nitin Khirbat, Alicia Ford, Greg Lafeursky, Pete Lafeursky, Roz Harris and Beth Pope.