Marilyn Booker was a 26-year veteran of New York-based bank Morgan Stanley, where she spent most of her time as the firm’s first global diversity chief.
In December of last year, she was fired for pushing senior executives to make more opportunities for Black employees at the company, according to The New York Times. Now, she’s suing the company for racial discrimination and retaliation.
According to a human resources representative at the bank, Booker was informed that her position had been eliminated and that there would be no opportunity for her to transfer to another division inside the bank, the Times reports. A note was then sent out on her behalf, unbeknownst to her, saying she “decided to leave the firm and pursue other opportunities.”
Up until the very last day of her 26-year career at the bank, Booker was still going to bat for the few Black employees at the company.
As a result of her termination, Booker has filed a formal lawsuit against her former employer. According to her, despite the recent statements Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman made regarding the death of George Floyd and others, the bank has spent years blocking efforts to address inequalities in the firm’s ranks, CNBC reports.
“Rather than seriously examine its own role in perpetuating inequalities in hiring, pay and promotion, and in fostering toxic workplace cultures and consumer discrimination, Morgan Stanley has instead repeatedly stopped short of any meaningful major overhauls during prior opportunities for change,” the suit claims, according to CNBC.
The suit also pointed out the company’s alleged hypocritical ways.
“Most troubling, Morgan Stanley has, in true hypocritical fashion, actively sought to silence those who speak out and try to advocate for change when it comes to diversity and inclusion.”
The suit also detailed the company’s wrongdoings against Booker.
“She paid the ultimate price by losing her job merely because she pushed too hard for reforms that would disrupt the status quo on White dominance and result in more Black and minority employees at Morgan Stanley,” the suit reads.
CNBC also reported that the bank released an email statement responding to the suit saying:
“We strongly reject the allegations made in this claim and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in the appropriate forum. We are steadfast in our commitment to improve the diversity of our employees and have made steady progress – while recognizing that we have further progress to make. We will continue to advance our high priority efforts to achieve a more diverse and inclusive firm.”
In addition to her former employer, Booker named CEO Gorman and ex-boss Barry Krouk, a senior executive in the wealth management division, as defendants in the suit.
Her complaint was filed on behalf of other Black, female employees at the company.
Upon her dismissal from the bank, Booker was the only Black woman managing director in the wealth division’s New York City offices, according to the suit.