CEO of GE subsidiary files suit accusing firm of bias

Stamford (US), May 18 | Updated: May 19 2005, 05:30am hrs
The chief executive of a General Electric Co subsidiary has filed a lawsuit against the conglomerate, accusing it of discriminating against him and other black managers in awarding pay, promotions and perks.

Marc Thomas, President and CEO of GE aviation materials lp, charged that GE refused to promote or reward him despite exemplary sales and profits in the business he runs, and tried to force him out when he complained of discrimination.

GE denied the allegations in the lawsuit, filed in US district court in Bridgeport, Connecticut. At General Electric, African-Americans are reluctantly allowed to sit at the table, Thomas said. Theyre not allowed to ask any questions. His experience at the Fairfield-based industrial, finance and media company echoes that of many other black managers whose careers have been stymied by cronyism and outdated policies, Thomas lawsuit alleges. The action, which seeks class action status to represent thousands of managers, asks the court for at least $450 million in damages, as well as back pay, increases in pay and benefits and broad changes in GEs personnel practices.

GE said it would seek to dismiss the lawsuit. GE is globally recognised and acknowledged as a leader in diversity and has been recognised as such by national awards received for pursuing and promoting diversity excellence in the workplace, the company said in a statement.