BRIDGEPORT, Conn., May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- General Electric's (NYSE: GE)
slogan Imagination At Work might be better phrased Discrimination At Work,
according to a class action complaint filed Tuesday in United States District
Court in Connecticut by one of the company's top-ranking African-American
Marc T. Thomas, president, chairman and CEO of GE Aviation Materials LP
("GEAM"), charges in the suit that the nation's fifth largest company
discriminated against him and thousands of other African-American managers and
professional level employees by subjecting them to racist pay and promotion
policies and practices.
Mr. Thomas, who led his GE subsidiary to record profits in 2004 and in the
first quarter of 2005, alleges in the complaint that GE:
-- fails to pay African-American managers and professionals on par with
their white colleagues;
-- fails to promote African-American managers and professionals to senior
leadership positions; and
-- retaliates against employees who protest GE's discriminatory practices.
Mr. Thomas's attorney, David W. Sanford, of the Washington, D.C. office of
Sanford, Wittels, & Heisler, LLP, said "Marc Thomas's life and career -- from
Stanford University, Columbia Business School and West Point, to a 'Green
Beret' commander leading Special Forces soldiers overseas, to serving as a
White House adviser -- have served as models for excellence and leadership.
Mr. Thomas's excellence has continued at GE, as he led the turnaround of an
under-achieving company. Despite his proven record of success, GE has
discriminated against Mr. Thomas. Unfortunately, there are thousands of other
African-Americans at GE with similar stories."
The Complaint describes how GE's internal statistics and reports show race
discrimination against African-American managers and professionals in
promotion, pay, and other practices. GE has seen an escalating departure of
African-Americans and minorities in its ranks, and soaring minority attrition
is a fact known to senior management.
According to Mr. Thomas, "Racial discrimination can no longer be tolerated
by this company's African-American managers and professionals. It is
imperative that individuals be evaluated and rewarded based on objective
criteria as opposed to race. The time has come for GE to face and truly
resolve the troubling issues that made this legal action necessary. I am
taking this stand now because I feel compelled to do everything I can to
ensure this discrimination comes to an end."
In 2004, Mr. Thomas received one of GE's highest honors, The Lewis A.
Latimer Award. The inscription on the award highlighted his exemplary
leadership skills. Mr. Thomas has led a turnaround at GEAM with significant
sales, profit increases, and cost reductions. Under Mr. Thomas's leadership,
the company had the highest performance increases in 2004 among comparable GE
companies, growing sales by more than 21 percent and netting an 89 percent
increase in operating profits. Profit has continued to skyrocket by 162
percent in the first quarter of 2005 compared to the same period last year.
Steven L. Wittels of Sanford, Wittels, & Heisler's New York office, added,
"Mr. Thomas led GEAM to record performance in 2004 and again in the first
quarter of 2005. Mr. Thomas implemented a merit-based incentive system at GE
Aviation Materials where employees were paid and rewarded based on their job
performance. For his efforts, GE management retaliated by orchestrating a
campaign designed to drive Mr. Thomas out of the company. Sadly, the
mistreatment of an individual as distinguished as Mr. Thomas is emblematic of
GE's continuing inability and unwillingness to prevent institutionalized
racism at GE."
Defendants in the case include GE, GE Transportation, GE Aviation
Materials, GE CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt, and a group of corporate officers and
senior operations and human resource leaders at GE including, David L.
Calhoun, Daniel "Dan" C. Heintzelman, Charlene T. Begley, John "Jack" F. Ryan,
Marc A. Chini, and William "Bill" J. Conaty, and members of the GE Management
Development & Compensation Committee.
Based in Irving, Texas, GE Aviation Materials is a joint venture
specializing in the purchase and sale of turbine engines, airframes and
refurbished spare parts manufactured by GE and other companies. GE Aviation
Materials is a subsidiary of GE Transportation.
The lawsuit seeks $450 million in compensatory, punitive and equitable
damages, as well as injunctive relief to change GE pay and promotion policies
and procedures. The class includes thousands of African-American managers and
professional employees. Mr. Thomas also filed individual claims for
retaliation, breach of contract, tortious conduct, and intentional infliction
of emotional distress.
The legal team for Mr. Thomas and the class includes David Sanford and
Steven Wittels of Sanford, Wittels, & Heisler and Grant Morris of the Law
Offices of Grant Morris, Washington, D.C. They can be reached by phone at
202-942-2187 or 942-9124 in Washington; by phone at 914-319-9945 in New York;
by e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org; or
email@example.com; and on the Web at http://www.nydclaw.com.
Sanford, Wittels & Heisler, LLP represents plaintiffs in state, federal
and administrative employment law cases alleging harassment or discrimination
based on race, gender, disability, pregnancy, religion, retaliation and unpaid
overtime/wages. The attorneys at Sanford, Wittels & Heisler have reached
multi-million dollar settlements in numerous cases nationwide.
SOURCE Sanford, Wittels & Heisler, LLP