Former Sales Manager Alleges Harassment and Discrimination

Life Alert Accused of Sexual Harassment and Age Discrimination

Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc., the California-based manufacturer of the wearable emergency alarm system, has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit in state court in Manhattan. The complaint seeks damages for age discrimination, as well as wrongful termination. The Life Alert system is well known to consumers because of its popular tag line, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

The complaint, filed by former sales manager Leon Hayblum, alleges that he was fired from his job after 12 years with the company. Hayblum’s attorneys contend that he was wrongfully terminated because:

  • He had complained for years about the prevalence of sexual harassment at the company, sexual harassment that victimized female employees, female vendors and customers, and even Hayblum’s wife
  • Hayblum’s expressed concerns that Life Alert was violating state wage and hour laws
  • He was 71 years old and the company wanted to replace him with a younger employee
  • He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer

According to Hayblum, executives at Life Alert fostered and condoned a sexually hostile environment where the general manager often propositioned female employees, offering them sales leads, promotions and other perks in exchange for sexual favors. Hayblum also says that the general manager punished those who declined or refused to comply.

Hayblum stated in his complaint that he had brought his concerns to the company’s chief executive, Isaac Shepher, and was told that “nobody is forcing them to stay.” When Hayblum complained that his own wife had been the target of sexual harassment, Shepher apparently told Hayblum not to worry, that “Israeli girls know how to protect themselves.” According to Hayblum, many women opted to leave Life Alert rather than face the continued harassment.

Hayblum’s attorneys also allege that he was terminated in retaliation for complaining about the company’s practice of calling its sales representatives “independent contractors.” Life Alert is currently a defendant in a collective action lawsuit alleging wage and hour violations.

Hayblum is seeking $7 million in damages.

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