Peter Nicoletti Accuses JLL of Discrimination, Cancer Diagnosis Retaliation: Suit

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A former JLL capital markets broker has sued the company, claiming the real estate brokerage goliath discriminated against him because of his cancer diagnosis.

Peter Nicoletti, who currently works for Colliers, claimed that JLL executives tried to force him to resign by reassigning his assistant, disbanding his team and moving his offices on three separate occasions after he informed his superiors that he was diagnosed with leukemia in November 2017, Bisnow reported.

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Nicoletti sued for breach of contract — claiming that JLL did not pay him the commission he had earned after terminating him in 2020 — and is seeking at least $75,000 for the alleged discrimination, according to the lawsuit. The parties have not reached or discussed a settlement, according to court records. 

The broker, who now serves as the New York City capital markets head for Colliers, first filed his lawsuit against JLL in a federal court in Illinois in March 2021, followed by a separate complaint of discrimination with the New York State Division of Human Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in August. Nicoletti’s lawyer, Amir Tahmassebi, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nicoletti was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia — a type of cancer that starts in the bone marrow and often moves into the blood — and underwent monthly chemotherapy treatments where he was hospitalized for five days at a time starting in 2017, according to court documents. While treatable, just under 30 percent of people in America living with the disease are still alive five years after their diagnosis, according to Healthline. 

While on medical leave, he continued to work for JLL at home and in the office, and he claimed in court filings that he finished the year as one of the top producers in JLL Capital Markets. JLL disputed this and further denied that the company and Nicoletti’s superiors were aware of his diagnosis, according to court documents. JLL’s lawyer, Lindsey Hogan, declined to comment on the case.

The following year, the 13-year JLL staffer received a stem cell transplant and was quarantined at home from March 2018 until June 2018 and worked remotely, before transitioning to part-time office work in June. He claimed he finished 2018 in the top 10 percent of the Capital Markets team, though JLL disputes this allegation as well, according to court filings.

Nicoletti was negotiating a new employment contract with JLL at the time, but those negotiations were put on hold in 2018 — something Nicoletti attributes to his cancer diagnosis. JLL claimed it was because Nicoletti was being “difficult” with commission split negotiations. Nicoletti suffered from other health issues in 2019 — including pneumonia, liver and kidney failure, a blood clot in his leg and a heart attack — but continued to work, according to his lawsuit.

JLL disbanded Nicoletti’s team in 2019, following his conversation with Mark Gibson, CEO and head of capital markets, in which Gibson allegedly told Nicoletti that he was not a “team player.” JLL admitted that the meeting occurred, but denied that Gibson made those statements. JLL admitted that it told Nicolleti his team would be disbanded and that he moved offices twice, but not three times, according to court documents. 

JLL fired Nicoletti in 2020, telling him it was because he failed to attend morning meetings —  which he claims he was never invited to — and because his production was low in 2019,  the year he suffered his heart attack. 

During his career at JLL, Nicoletti was responsible for brokering a billion-dollar debt acquisition in 2014 and recapitalizing Canyon Capital Realty Advisors’ Washington, D.C. Hilton Hotel, CO reported at the time.

Nicoletti did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a representative for JLL declined to comment.

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.