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Citibank settles age discrimination complaint for $500,000

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FIRA) has ruled Citibank violated state anti-discrimination laws when it fired Edward Laurence Bowne in 2008—and ordered the bank to pay Bowne $500,000 in compensation.

Bowne worked as a branch manager for Citigroup Global Markets brokerage from 1997 until his firing at age 66. The problems began when Citibank hired a much younger regional manager to supervise Bowne in 2004. Bowne stated the manager consistently made snide comments about Bowne’s age, allegedly telling him he was “getting a little long in the tooth.”

Citibank fired Bowne while he was on leave after his sister died.

In addition to the ageist comments, FIRA found evidence that the manager had reduced Bowne’s bonus based on a questionable customer complaint and replaced him with a much younger worker.

Note: Employers may mistakenly believe that they can justify a firing simply by accumulating evidence of poor performance. But when an employee raises evidence of discrimination and long-term harassment, it casts doubt on the poor performance argument.

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