Former CEO accuses American Express of firing him for being white

A former executive of American Express has mediated with the financial services company over his federal complaint alleging he was fired for being white and opposing the company’s diversity agenda.

Brian Netzel, a 62-year-old former customer manager in Arizona, filed the complaint with the… Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities. He entered mediation at American Express on Thursday.

“On October 30, 2020, AmEx unceremoniously terminated my employment as part of a ‘diversity’ policy that rewarded business leaders for making their departments less ‘white’, he said. EEOC complaint state. “My termination was a direct result of being an older white male, a demographic that specifically sought to reduce the company in leadership positions like mine, and in direct retaliation for my outspoken opposition to racially discriminatory and hostile policies from AmEx.”

Mr Netzel said he was fired by a senior executive who took advantage of his dismissal because the company awards bonus points for having more people of color.

American Express initiated training based on critical race theory and then fired Mr. Nextel after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police in May 2020, according to Mr. Netzel and company documents made public by Christopher Rufo of the Manhattan Institute.

Developed in graduate and law schools in the 1970s, critical race theory is an analytical tool based on Marxist critical studies. It argues that racism is a fundamental element of American society and government and is important in understanding and evaluating American laws, policies and programs.

American Express said Mr Netzel’s claim is “baseless”.

“We have long been committed to living our company values, which include fostering a diverse and inclusive culture where all colleagues feel welcome, heard and have an equal opportunity to thrive,” said company spokeswoman Leah Gerstner.

“Our diversity, equality and inclusion programs are specifically about delivering on this commitment and are not based on any specific theory, nor are they targeted at a specific group of employees,” said Ms. Gerstner. “Progress and compensation without our company is based solely on individual business and leadership performance. Any portrayal of our company and culture that would be the opposite is simply wrong.”

According to company records, American Express ordered employees to attend “anti-racist” training sessions in which they were forced to identify their “privilege” and define themselves based on “race, sexual orientation, body type, religion, disability status, age, gender identity.” [and] citizenship.”

In addition, American Express paid Harvard Kennedy School professor Khalil Muhammad to lecture to company employees. Mr. Muhammad, the great-grandson of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, spoke on the topic of race in corporate America and denounced capitalism and American Express for alleged evil that visited people of color.

according to his EEOC In his complaint, Mr. Netzel objected to internal pressure to align with leftist views, which he said distorted American Express’s core lending business.

“Our members were out of business,” he said of riots that broke out during protests against racial justice after Floyd’s murder. “It seemed like a bizarre position based on the company.”

Mr Netzel also said he would have broken the law if he had followed Mr Mohammed’s advice. “He insisted in his speech that we treat black people differently from whites, which is illegal in the credit industry,” said Mr. netzel. “I was floored.”

Mr Netzel expressed concern about the training and asked why conservative blacks such as Thomas Sowell or Robert Woodson were being excluded. He also posted memes on his individual Facebook page in which he mocks people like Shaun King, social justice advocate whose fundraising has come under criticism, and Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who pretended to be black and the NAACP chapter of Seattle. led.

In terminating him, American Express cited his social media posts and even a face-to-face text discussion he had with a friend about whether Popeye’s or Chick-fil-A had superior fried chicken, according to Mr. Netzel’s attorney David Pivtorik. .

“I had posted critical jokes about the ‘woke-ism’ taking over the country and also criticized New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for painting ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the Manhattan street outside Trump Tower,” said mr. netzel. .

The position of Mr. Netzel was eliminated, not by his immediate supervisor for an urgent reason, but by another executive who would benefit from firing white employees, Mr. Pivtorik.

“There was an extremely seedy procedural aspect to all of this,” the lawyer said. “It wasn’t the usual chain of command…”

The EEOC According to the complaint, the company disregarded anti-discrimination laws when acquiring the newly ordered equity.

“AmEx made it clear that demographics in … positions need to be changed to reflect their proportional representation in the general population,” the complaint states. “The announcement was made without any explanation or reassurance that the company would still follow applicable anti-discrimination laws to achieve its goal.”

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