Citing a “recurring pattern of harassment” and creation of “an environment where it is impossible to succeed,” a 50-year-old New Jersey man filed a hostile work environment lawsuit against M & T Bank under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the state's Conscientious Employee Protection Act, and the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Stephen Sullivan filed his case in New Jersey state court last week after having been terminated just two weeks earlier. The former senior technology manager claims that over the past two years the financial institution has systematically set older employees up for failure and then fired them in favor of younger, less experienced workers.
In his own case, Mr. Sullivan alleged that he was transferred from a position in the bank’s Risk & Finance Technology division — where he had consistently earned successful performance reviews — to an undefined position on a project team that had previously been derided for its "poor design, development and implementation.” He alleges that within months he was being blamed for its problems, and that it eventually led to his firing. His lawsuit cites six other senior technologists around his age who suffered similar firings. He also alleges that as part of his management instructions he had been told to cut the number of senior software engineers on his staff and to replace them with younger engineers and interns. This resulted in multiple senior software engineers in their late 40s to mid-50s being “constructively terminated.”
The specifics of Mr. Sullivan’s own firing revolved around his placement on a project team called Profit Link. Despite having “no formal responsibilities, no direct reports and no leadership authority,” he alleges that he’d been tasked with regaining control of Profit Link from the Deloitte consultants who made up the majority of the team. Profit Link had been designed, built, and serviced by a Deloitte consultant who was later hired by the bank and who in turn hired and promoted additional Deloitte consultants. As for Profit Link itself, he alleges that the project was viewed as a representing a three-year history of bad decisions that had cost M & T $40 million. Mr. Sullivan claims that despite he and the bank not having been involved in the project from its start and the Deloitte consultants failing to follow M & T’s protocols or best practices, he was blamed for its problems.
In describing his experience, Sullivan explained that he had been assigned to Profit Link in 2021 after another employee’s departure. The transfer had represented a raise, but in just two months’ time he received “unexpected and ambiguous negative feedback" from a supervisor, and a month later his annual performance review indicated that he needed improvement and was not eligible for a bonus. He alleges that the same supervisor was the individual who blamed him for the three years of expense and problems with the project, and who fired him, replacing him with a younger and less experienced manager.
Mr. Sullivan alleges that similarly situated employees have suffered the same fate in the M & T Bank environment, and he accuses the bank of intentional infliction of emotional distress, as well as breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. He is seeking compensation for the damages he suffered, while also asserting that many others have been and continue to be treated unfairly based on their age.
If you have experienced adverse actions in the workplace as a result of your age or because you are a member of any protected class, your rights under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination may have been violated. Contact our employment discrimination law firm today to learn how we can help.