Bodyguard for upstate billionaire businessman fired after missing work due to diabetes-related emergency: lawsuit
A billionaire investor’s bodyguard was fired after he had a medical emergency and couldn’t drive his boss to a party, according to a lawsuit.
Juan Gonzalez, 56, got a bodyguard gig working for Nelson Peltz — a founding partner and CEO of Trian Fund Management — in January 2015.
While Gonzalez was employed by a private security company, his supervisor was Peltz’s property manager Ken Schwebel.
Gonzalez says he told Schwebel about his diabetes upon his hiring.
Gonzalez’s duties at the moneyman’s Mt. Kisco home in Westchester County included “driving and escorting the Peltz family to social events and shopping, walking their dogs and checking the dogs for ticks, as well as various other tasks on an on-call basis,” his Manhattan Federal Court suit claims.
Schwebel even praised Gonzalez’s work until July 2, 2016, when he went to the ER after waking up with “shortness of breath and severe symptoms relating to his diabetes.”
Shortly after Gonzalez let the private security firm know of his emergency, Schwebel texted him saying: “Juan, not a wise choice to call out today. Put everybody in a jamb (sic). But if youre (sic) that sick please take off all next week when the family is not here and get better. Ken.”
Gonzalez was supposed to drive the family to a party that evening, his lawyer said.
Schwebel allegedly called Gonzalez during his exam and texted “Call me,” the suit says.
Gonzalez — worried about losing his job — got the OK from his doctor to call Schwebel back. He put the conversation on speakerphone.
Schwebel told Gonzalez he had to work and drive the family back to their home that evening when his doctor intervened, the suit says.
“Excuse me, sir, I am this patient’s doctor and this patient has a very serious medical condition,” she told Schwebel, according to court papers. “You cannot force this man to go to work. He cannot come back to work until July 5. I'm telling you he's sick.”
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“Get off the phone. I’m not talking to you. Put Juan back on,” Schwebel allegedly shot back, the papers say. “Juan, if you don't show up, then don't come back, cause you need to take the family out on a run.”
Gonzalez, 56, says he was fired shortly thereafter.
“Here I’m protecting them — I go out every day, I work — and now all of a sudden, I just get thrown out like a used rag,” Gonzalez told the Daily News.
“That made me feel betrayed. I gave them 150%. I was spending more time with them then my family.”
Gonzalez, who maintains he neither took a sick day nor vacation until July 2, says Peltz didn't contact him after that day.
“No one in the family reached out to see how I was feeling, what had happened,” he said.
“It’s a terrible case of just callously, selfishly firing someone because he has a disability,” said Gonzalez’s lawyer Silvia Stanciu. “This is a client who gave everything he had to the company.”
Peltz is worth $1.51 billion, according to Forbes.
Reps for Peltz, Schwebel and Trian did not immediately responded to request for comment Thursday.