We have no idea about the merits of this suit. But here’s the press release from the representatives of the plaintiff.
Adding to the long list of woes facing banking giant BOA, Jack Mitchell, an African-American former employee of BOA, through his lawyers at Ziegler, Ziegler & Associates LLP, has brought a lawsuit accusing BOA of engaging in systematic discrimination against its African-American employees.
In the complaint, filed in New York State Supreme Court, Bronx County, Mitchell alleges that BOA operated on the belief that its high net worth individual clients, who were primarily white, would not wish to interact with its African-American employees. The suit alleges that in order to prevent interaction between its African-American employees and white clients, BOA grouped its African-American employees into business development groups consisting almost exclusively of other African-American employees, groups it then systematically assigned to work in predominantly low-income, minority communities such as the South Bronx and Harlem.
The claims have been brought by Jack Mitchell, who was hired by BOA in February 2007 as a Premier Client Manager (“PCM”). As a PCM, Mr. Mitchell worked within BOA’s premier banking and investment division in order to develop business relationships with existing and potential BOA clients classified as high net worth individuals. The lawsuit alleges that BOA’s African-American PCMs were set up for failure and marginalized by BOA under a system in which BOA kept its African-American PCMs, such as Mr. Mitchell, separate from its primarily white client base of high net worth individuals, a system of separation akin to institutionalized apartheid.
Mr. Mitchell claims that was inducted into this system immediately upon joining BOA when, as the only African American in his hiring class, he was assigned to a business group consisting exclusively of other African-American employees. The suit alleges that given the minuscule number of African-American BOA employees, the likelihood that such assignment was the product of random selection was practically nil.
Mr. Mitchell’s lawsuit states that after nearly a year of experiencing BOA’s discriminatory employment practices and witnessing other African-American BOA employees do the same, he formally complained to BOA in December 2007. The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Mitchell’s December 2007 complaint, as well as at least three other formal complaints submitted by Mr. Mitchell to BOA between February 2008 and June 2008, were ignored by BOA even as BOA was receiving numerous complaints of racial discrimination from other African-American employees around the U.S.
The lawsuit alleges that instead of constructively addressing Mr. Mitchell’s complaints of racial discrimination, BOA labelled him a troublemaker and malcontent, eventually retaliating against him by terminating his employment in July 2008.
In addition to the lawsuit, Mr. Mitchell has filed a separate charge of discrimination against BOA before the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The full text of Mr. Mitchell’s complaint is available online here.
“This suit is completely without merit,” Bank of America probably would say if we called them to ask. We didn’t bother.
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