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Race Discrimination Alleged at NYC Banks

Major banks have been accused of a number of misdeeds in recent years relating to the economic collapse. But now the most recent allegation involves potential employment discrimination in New York.Our Great Neck employment law attorneys understand that two former employees have filed separate lawsuits accusing mega-banks Bank of America and Cantor Fitzgerald of company-wide racism.

Unfortunately, cases such as this can be difficult to prove. It’s like being pulled over by a police officer. He or she may have initiated the stop based on your race, but if you were speeding, had a headlight that was out or tinted windows, it can be difficult to prove that the officer was wrong to stop you.

It’s the same kind of uphill battle for employees who allege discrimination – an experienced law firm can help. Evidence might include an executive’s statement made in the presence of others or some electronic communication such as an e-mail or something else to indicate that action taken against you (or favorable action not taken toward you) was on the basis of your race or some other protected status, such as your religion, gender or sexual orientation. A pattern of behavior on the part of the company can also go toward proof of employment bias.

Ideally, your complaint would be combined with a solid work history. In other words, the employer had no reason to take the action against you that it did except for a personally-held or company-wide bias.

That may well have been the case here, though it remains to be seen how the courts will decide.

In the first of these two cases, James v. Cantor Fitzgerald LP, filed in the US. District Court in the Southern District of New York, the plaintiff is a black man who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald for four years, ending in the summer of 2008. During that time, he says he endured racial harassment from co-workers that was condoned by his managers. This harassment included certain colleagues making ape-like noises while around him and in one case, a co-worker saying he would be enjoying a weekend absent any African Americans, only he used a slur instead.

The plaintiff says that he notified the bank management about it, but rather than address it, he says, he was denied promotions. In one case, he says, a bank manager instructed him to transfer locations so he could “be around his own people.” The employee says when he pressed the supervisor for the meaning of that statement, he said the supervisor responded by telling him he needed to be around other African Americans.

He says he was fired for complaining about the harassment. He is asking for his job back, as well as back pay, bonuses and punitive damages.

In the second case, a black male was a manager at a Bank of America branch from early in 2007 until the summer of 2008. During that time, he stated that the branch policy was that white customers should not be served by African American employees.

What that meant for the manager was that he was routinely assigned to branches that were in lower-income communities. That in turn led to affecting certain commission and compensation. The manager said when he complained about this, he was fired.

He is seeking $10 million in damages.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides employment litigation representation in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or send us an e-mail.

Additional Resources:
Former bank employees sue over alleged discrimination, By Rebecca Hamilton, Reuters

More Blog Entries:
New York Disability Discrimination Hurts Everyone, July 20, 2012, New York Employment Lawyer Blog