Lawyer sues for Racial Discrimination

A former lawyer working for AIG has sued the company for discrimination, claiming colleagues and supervisors taunted him, mistreated him and ultimately fired him because he is black.

The Plaintiff, Earl E. Brown, age 40, filed a federal lawsuit in New York against his former boss and AIG Investments. In his lawsuit, Brown alleges that his boss, John P. Hornbostel, fostered an environment in which Brown was exposed to “discriminatory, humiliating, lewd, crude, unprofessional and inappropriate jokes, behavior, statements, innuendo, remarks, gestures comments, discussions and overall blatant and suggestive racist terms.”

Brown lists a few examples of this inappropriate behavior creating a hostile work environment such as an incident in which Hornbostel asked Brown into his office, only to yell: “Hey! Hey! Hey! It’s Fat Albert! Do you remember that cartoon!”

Hornbostel told his executive assistant, in front of Brown, to “take Earl with you” next time she needed to get documents signed by someone in the office, the suit says. “I’m sure with this brother behind you, he can scare anyone into signing quickly,” the suit says Hornbostel told the assistant. Brown was the only African American in a group of 50 lawyers, according to the complaint.

“Earl Brown is an accomplished, accredited, diligent, hardworking attorney who was treated differently solely based upon his race,” says Brown’s lawyer.

AIG spokesman Mark Herr called the lawsuit “baseless and without merit.” He said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed Brown’s complaint and “a third party looked at his complaint and found that it was without merit.”

The suit sets out facts that Hornbostel denied Brown an office, though every other lawyer in the group got one, and made him share a cubicle with assistants and paralegals. In July 2008, Brown said he was informed by another employee that Hornbostel wanted Brown fired.

“My experience has been marked by antagonistic, condescending, and at times disparate treatment,” a letter written by Brown stated. “It is my strong belief that it has been [Hornbostel’s] every intent to discourage my participation in the group, malign my character among the very individuals I was asked to work for and with, and generally effort to ‘prepare an argument for my termination.'”

AIG fired Brown in March 2009, telling him his “position had been cut,” according to the suit. Brown is amongst the small number of individuals who are employed in highly compensated fields of work. Brown sought to defend his rights against a giant company such as AIG. If you are in a similar situation, you should not fear that you have no one to turn to. The attorneys at The Harman Firm are experienced with dealing with highly compensated employees and will fight to defend your rights.