Fortune 500 firm accused of racial discrimination against Black workers

Managers used a noose at a meeting with Black employees in an effort to create an unworkable environment, says workers' lead counsel

Fortune 500 firm accused of racial discrimination against Black workers

Three Black workers previously employed at a Fortune 500 firm are suing their previous employer for unfair treatment and a toxic work environment.

The workers are pursuing legal action against Ryan Marshall, CEO at homebuilder PulteGroup, along with others who are accused of being involved in a conspiracy to reward personal loyalty over merit and, in some specific cases, white employees over Black employees.

“We have photographic evidence that’s never been made public. Ryan Marshall’s managers actually used a noose at a meeting with Black employees in an effort to create an unworkable environment. When they complained, they were written up and subsequently fired,” said lead counsel Mark Zausmer, of the Zausmer Law Firm. “I’ve never seen anything so clear and egregious.”

‘Shame’ diversity board, ‘fast-tracked’ promotions

According to the 22-page complaint, while the Fortune 500 firm and Marshall recently created a “Diversity Board” and say they prize inclusion, the said board is a “sham” and managers engaged in “unlawful retaliation in the form of termination” when Black employees reported misconduct on the part of Patrick Witzigman.

Witzigman is alleged to have acted as a lieutenant in the scheme and had racist interactions with all three Black plaintiffs, according to the law firm.

Witzigman’s conduct was given a pass or endorsement because he was a loyalist to COO Brandon Jones, who himself was recently terminated after the PulteGroup Board found wrongdoing and actions that violated their Code of Ethical Business Conduct (PDF), noted the Zausmer Law Firm.

Also, Jones had received “fast-tracked” promotions and was personal friends with CEO Marshall, the lawsuit alleges. The workplace has a conspiracy wherein the CEO had his executives, and managers who reported to them, filter out Black employees who spoke out about unlawful conduct perpetrated by their supervisors that did not align with PulteGroup’s public image, specifically, by the hands of Witzigman, the complaint explained.

Employees sought the help of HR and legal departments, but they engaged in Marshall’s grand coverup and retaliated against Black employees. Also, not once did the diversity board” (led by Marshall) or the ethics committee (led by General Counsel Todd Sheldon) ever correct these civil rights violations because these entities were set up to fool shareholders, employees and the public, the law firm accused.

“Each of the three plaintiffs can demonstrate that they were treated with prejudice, that normal recourse for reporting discriminatory or predatory practices was not actually available to them, and that they were terminated or forced out by managers loyal to CEO Marshall or one of his top lieutenants,” said the Zausmer Law Firm.

Plaintiffs have provided the court with photographs of the “lynching noose” and made public, for the first time, what is internally referred to as the “Noose Meeting” at PulteGroup among employees.


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