Anne-Marie Ayers alleges wrongful termination, harassment
Anne-Marie Ayers, who spent more than two decades as a top broker at commercial real estate services firm CBRE Inc. before being terminated last year, has filed a lawsuit against the company in Tampa.
Ayers alleges that CBRE and Michael DiBlasi, who was tapped to become the brokerage firm’s managing partner in Tampa last March, wrongfully fired her after a period of “harassment” and “intimidation,” according to a complaint filed last year in the Thirteenth Circuit Court in Hillsborough County.
Ayers spent more than 22 years at CBRE before leaving abruptly in April 2019, working on such notable projects as the $193.5 million sale of the 42-story Bank of America Plaza tower in downtown Tampa and Fifth Third Center, also in downtown.
“Indeed, throughout her tenure with CBRE, Ayers was consistently recognized as one of the top commercial salespersons in the Tampa Office, and in the state of Florida,” the lawsuit states, adding that in 2014 the company awarded her its “coveted” George Bartlett Award for “leadership, mentorship and team spirit.”
Officials from Los Angeles-based CBRE did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, and Ayers’ attorney at Hill Ward Henderson, Gregory Brown, also could not be reached.
Ayers’ eight-count lawsuit alleges CBRE and DiBlasi engaged in tortious interference; breach of contract; unjust enrichment; conversion; and the “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
The lawsuit also claims CBRE and DiBlasi, together with former Tampa Managing Partner Chase Pattillo, now a vice president of Fore Property Co. in Tampa, created a “hostile work environment” and violated an internal agreement by disparaging her to clients and prospective clients.
It states further that during a meeting in April of last year in which she was fired, DiBlasi told Ayers that she “was not a team player and they were going in another direction.”
In addition, the lawsuit says DiBlasi and CBRE have withheld Ayers’ personal files, electronic records and other materials to which she was entitled, together with unpaid commissions and other compensation for work produced, despite repeated requests, which together have “resulted in significant economic loss.”