Event company

Event Company Non Plus Ultra accused of unemployment fraud

Non Plus Ultra, an event company that rents the Palace of Fine Arts, Pier 70 and the Old Mint, has come under fire from employees who claim they filed fraudulent unemployment claims, harassed and intimidated staff and fired them when they clashed with management, according to a March 1 lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court.

Workers allege the company signed an undisclosed number of employees into California’s work-sharing program, filing a type of claim to cut layoffs by compensating companies if they cut hours instead of cutting jobs. posts. Under this program, the state pays up to 60% of staff salaries to companies whose claims are approved.

However, the employees named in the lawsuit said they continued to work full time, unaware that the majority of their salaries were subsidized by the government.

Non Plus Ultra “defrauded its employees, including complainants, by continuing to receive the services and work of complainants per full-time work week of 40 hours or more while only rewarding complainants for 40% of their hours. total worked ”, we read in the court file. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Phil Foster of the Tour-Sarkissian law firm, said he had no comment on the case.

The defendants named in the lawsuit are Jordan Langer, founder and CEO of Non Plus Ultra; his wife, Constance Leanne Langer, who allegedly signed the unemployment documents filed with the state; and Louis Pizante, the company’s chief financial officer. Leanne Langer is also the founder of Remunerati, a software company designed for human resources departments.

“This lawsuit is brought by disgruntled former employees, led by a former director of the company, who, unfortunately, seeks to create business opportunities for himself by attacking our reputation,” Jordan Langer said in an email qualifying them. “completely frivolous” claims. And the “baseless” lawsuit.

“We are eager to address it in court,” he added.

Plaintiffs Efthalea King, Kevin Theesfeld, Juan Jesus Garcia, Cody Brown and Ryan Melchiano – the latter of which has been a company partner since 2015 – claim that when the Langers and Pizante “bully, intimidate and harass” ‘failed to silence them regarding their discovery of the company’s fraud, they were fired.

According to the complaint, they now fear that they will be held criminally responsible for their involuntary participation in unemployment fraud – and, if the state demands that they repay the money they illegally acquired, that Non Plus Ultra will not let them. would not pay for the they were working full time.

The five employees demand that Langer rehire them in their old roles, pay them double the back wages from the date of their dismissal until the time they are rehired, and compensate them for losses and legal fees.

Non Plus Ultra is best known for hosting large scale parties or conferences at its myriad of properties. It rents SVN West, a former Honda dealership in Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue which is now the site of a new immersive Van Gogh exhibit, and also hosts events at the Midway Concert Hall and Jones, a restaurant and a rooftop bar near Union Carré. The company also rents out several of the city’s historic landmarks, including the Old Mint, the Palace of Fine Arts, and Pier 70, paying the city tens of thousands of dollars in rent each year. [See also: Luxury Event Company Conducts Homeless Sweep Ahead of Tech Conference.]

Statewide unemployment fraud

Unemployment fraud has become a major problem in California over the past 12 months, as businesses and individuals rush to recoup revenue lost during the pandemic. It is estimated that the state of California may have paid $ 31 billion in fraudulent claims, according to a january report California State Auditor Elaine Howle.

However, there was little coverage of companies participating in frauds related to the Department of Employment Development’s work-sharing program, and requests for the department’s comment were not returned at the time of publication.

In September 2020, the state adopted Assembly bill 1731, which speeded up the approval process for Work-Sharing applicants. Under the leadership of the bill, the Ministry of Employment Development created a portal on its website to receive incoming claims, expedite notification processes, and extend benefits for a full year from the date the claim is approved.

In addition to the request for the Work-Sharing program, employers must provide “a description of how employees in the affected unit will be notified of the employer’s participation in the work-sharing plan if the request is approved.” , according to AB 1731. It is unclear whether, or how, Non Plus Ultra shared information with the complainants about the unemployment claim.

As the employment agency tries to identify fraudulent claims, hundreds of thousands of people dependent on unemployment have had their accounts frozen, some for weeks at a time.

“There is no embedding of reality,” California Labor Secretary Julie Su said at a press conference in January. “California did not have sufficient security measures in place to prevent this level of fraud, and criminals took advantage of the situation.”

Correction 03/27/21: A previous version of this story gave the wrong address for the SVN West location.