Jonathan Bilyk Aug. 17, 2016, 2:42pm

A Westchester-based operator of airport and train station concessions, already embroiled in litigation with some of its former executives, has been hit with another lawsuit from one of its corporate officers, who has accused the company of shorting him half a million dollars pay.

On Aug. 10, plaintiff Michael Flynn filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against The Grove Inc. and TGI’s chief executive officer, Michelle Dukler.

The Grove operates famous brand concessions in airports and train stations nationwide, including several concession operations in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and the city’s Union Station, which serves passengers aboard Metra’s commuter rail lines and those traveling on Amtrak.

According to the lawsuit, Flynn signed on as The Grove’s new chief operating officer in December 2015, signing a three-year contract purportedly promising him an annual salary of $500,000. The lawsuit asserted the contract also guaranteed Flynn a year’s pay should he be fired for a reason other than “a change of control and not for cause.”

Yet, Flynn’s lawsuit said he was terminated as The Grove’s COO in May 2016, about five months after his employment began.

The lawsuit does not state why The Grove and Dukler may have moved to fire Flynn.

However, the complaint alleged The Grove and its leadership “engaged in a pattern of conduct to limit and/or thwart Flynn’s performance of his duties,” allegedly including “setting goals without thoroughly identifying standards, details and deliverables; unreasonably changing goals; unreasonably restricting authority and access to … subordinates and peers; … excluding him from senior executive meetings; … and undermining his relationship with peers and subordinates,” among other allegations.

Flynn has requested the court order The Grove to pay him $500,000, plus 2 percent interest on the money for each month it went unpaid, as he claimed is required under Illinois wage law.

He also requested attorney fees.

Flynn is represented in the action by attorney Nicholas F. Esposito, of Esposito & Staubus LLP, of Burr Ridge.

The case is the latest brought against The Grove and Dukler by former executives.

In 2014, TGIs's former COO Paul Loupakos and its former chief financial officer Robert Ireland both sued the company and Dukler in separate actions, asserting they were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages and bonuses.

Dukler and The Grove had, in turn, sued Ireland, saying the ex-CFO had overstated earnings by millions to boost his own bonuses and pay, and those of other executives.

Those actions remain pending in Cook County court.

Dukler and The Grove are represented in the actions by attorneys with the firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP, of Chicago.

Ireland is represented by the Fern Trevino Law Offices, of Chicago. And Loupakos is represented by the firm of Choate Herschmann, of Chicago.

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Organizations in this Story

Union Station
225 S Canal St

Greenberg Traurig, LLP
77 W Upper Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60601

Law Offices of Fern N. Trevino
120 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 1050
Chicago, IL 60602

Esposito & Staubus
7055 Veterans Blvd
Burr Ridge, IL 60527

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