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Employee Sues Tony Robbins Over COVID

Sales rep claims he's trying to force her out after diagnosis and lied about her case
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2020 1:21 PM CST

(Newser) – Motivational speaker Tony Robbins is embroiled in a nasty lawsuit revolving around COVID. A longtime sales rep says Robbins refused to accommodate her need to work from home after she ended up in a coma in the spring because of the coronavirus, reports the New York Times. Despina Kosta, 52, says that puts Robbins in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, among other things. But in a more sensational allegation, Kosta also accuses Robbins of lying about her case on his podcast and inflating his role in her recovery, per the Verge. The self-help guru has for months maintained that the dangers of COVID-19 are overblown. And in the podcast, he spoke of a female employee's plight, without naming names. The woman developed a fever of 102 and "got very scared," he recounted, per the Times.

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"And so she went to the hospital, and then out of fear, she felt short of breath, kind of hyperventilating a little bit, so they immediately put her on a ventilator," he said. Robbins told listeners ventilators may be doing more harm than good, so he said he pulled strings and persuaded the hospital to reduce the pressure on her ventilator. "As a result, four or five days later, she opened her eyes," he said. Kosta says Robbins was talking about her and disputes his account in her lawsuit. She has not worked since emerging from her coma in April, and she says the company refused to allow her to work from home or take a reduced schedule. She's on what amounts to unofficial leave, per Business Insider. "They were more or less trying to say, 'Listen, you're no good to us anymore. You're sick. So either take the disability or we'll give you a severance,'" she says. The company adamantly denies treating Kosta unfairly. (Read more Tony Robbins stories.)

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