Tony Robbins Accused of Forcing Ill Employee Back After Covid-19

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Lifestyle and business guru Tony Robbins has been sued in New York federal court by an employee who says Robbins’ company refused reasonable accommodations as she recovered from Covid-19 and that Robbins took advantage of her situation to promote himself.

Despina Kosta, who worked for Robbins Research International for 18 years, most recently as a personal results specialist, sued Robbins, his wife, and his corporation after she says she was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator after contracting the virus. She said the company tried to cut her recovery time short, and that Robbins caused emotional distress by inquiring about her condition in order to publicize it.

“By falsely claiming he saved an employee’s life during an international pandemic from the very disease that was and is ravishing the world, Robbins attempted to convince his followers that he has otherworldly knowledge and powers—that HE knew better than the doctors treating Ms. Kosta,” the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York says.

Jennifer Connelly, a spokeswoman for Robbins and his company, said in a statement that Kosta remains an employee and that she “has chosen to use the media as a tool in an attempt to advance her ridiculous and baseless claims.”

“While we wish Ms. Kosta only the best in her health and success, her allegations concerning RRI, Mr. Robbins and his wife, are false,” Connelly wrote in an email sent to Bloomberg Law Thursday.

“RRI will vigorously defend itself through appropriate legal channels against any fabricated or exaggerated claims made to further a personal agenda or gain enrichment,” she said.

RRI is accused of refusing Kosta’s requested time off on numerous occasions, and of denying her request to work part-time while she struggled with medical issues. RRI also allegedly threatened to terminate Kosta until she had her lawyers send a letter in July.

Cause(s) of Action: Discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Relief: Declaration of unlawful employment practices, damages, attorneys’ fees and costs.

Attorneys: Kosta is represented by White, Nisar & Hilferty LLP. Counsel information for the defendants wasn’t immediately available.

The case is Kosta v. Robbins Research International, S.D.N.Y., No. 1:20-cv-10880, 12/23/20.

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