A high-profile consulting and talent acquisition firm employee claims he was unlawfully fired in January after speaking up when his boss claimed he was “too American” and too old.
Gray Hollett, the former chief marketing officer at Boyden World Corporation, alleges that he was wrongfully discriminated against due to his age, nationality and old-fashioned sense of decorum in the workplace.
From 2017 to 2020, Boyden’s board of directors chairman, Jorg Kasten of Germany, made “frequent derogatory” remarks towards the 61-year-old, saying he was “too American” and needed to be “more European.”
“During the course of my employment at Boyden, I became aware that Chairman Kasten, other European partners and Board Members held openly and blatantly discriminatory attitudes towards certain employees at Boyden, like myself, that were born and raised in the United States,” Hollett’s complaint alleges.
The “discriminatory and hostile … anti-American comments” from Kasten were a “consistent” issue, and other European members of the US-based firm held “anti-American bias and animus.”
At one point, Kasten criticized the former CMO for wearing khakis, a button down and a sweater, telling him he should dress in jeans and T-shirts like his younger colleagues.
“I felt quite humiliated,” Hollett said.
In 2019, managing partner for Boyden UK, Nick Robeson, complained about Hollett’s decisions and claimed it was time for him to retire.
“Can you imagine being told, after more than a decade of success, it is time to retire?” Patrick J. Boyd, the attorney representing Hollett, told The New York Post.
With over thirteen years of hard work with Boyden under his belt, Holett was terminated in January.
“I made it clear to Kasten and Gordon that I believed ageism and national origin discrimination were the key drivers of my negative treatment- and that I felt ‘shaken’ by these unsubstantiated attacks,” Hollett wrote in the filing. “I believe that my age, national origin and complaints about discrimination were unlawful factors in the decision to terminate my employment.”
Boyden had no issues, however, capitulating to pressures to support the Black Lives Matter movement later in the year.
The company’s global head of marketing, Chris Swee, stated that “Boyden stands by its record of diversity.”
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