New Hampshire woman files suits against two technology giants
Oracle, Infor charged with racial discrimination
A Seacoast woman has filed separate racial employment discrimination suits against Oracle Corp., a company already beset by massive U.S. Department of Labor discrimination charges, and Infor Inc., another national multibillion-dollar software firm.
Oracle declined to comment, but Infor has fired back in a countersuit, saying that the plaintiff, Thea Broadus, an African American woman from Greenland, underperformed as a sales account executive and then, while in limbo or still getting paid, secretly went to work for Oracle in violation of a nondisclosure agreement. Both companies fired her.
But Broadus’ attorney, Benjamin King of the Concord law firm of Douglas, Leonard and Garvey, contends that the non-disclosure charges are “baseless” because the two firms did not have overlapping clients. Besides, such agreements don’t apply if the employee was fired for racial reasons, under the doctrine of “unclean hands,” he said.
Broadus initiated the discrimination complaint against Infor, a privately held firm based in Georgia with offices in Nashua and Portsmouth that sells business cloud software in industry-specific markets. Infor services 68,000 organizations, has more than 68 million users and has attracted $3.7 billion in funding over the last three years from Koch Equity Development, preceding a “potential initial public offering,” according to its website.
Broadus starting working for Infor in 2014, selling software to the healthcare industry out of her home, according to the suit, which was first filed against Infor in November 2018.
Broadus claimed she performed well, exceeded quotas and was included in the “circle of excellence” for three years. She said she had no problems with her first two supervisors, but her third supervisor “immediately expressed distrust” of her abilities. When she complained to human resources, she was asked why she was singled out.
“I don’t know why. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a woman or whether it’s because I’m the only African American on the sales team,” she said she replied.
Things eased, but in September Broadus said her supervisor was “micromanaging her, bullying her.” After she complained to human resources again, her supervisor reassigned two of her clients to others and in a two-hour private meeting “proceeded to lambaste” Broadus for saying he had no faith in her and that he was upset for having been reported as a “racist and sexist.”
When she complained to human resources again, she was reassigned to a West Coast supervisor, but the company eventually concluded that was impractical and ended her as an account executive May 11, giving her 60 days to find another position in the company. Broadus filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission four days later.
On June 11, Broadus accepted a position at Oracle, where she worked at that company’s technology division, again from her home. On Sept. 1, the company terminated Broadus after confirming she was an active employee at Infor. Infor also told Oracle that she was still employed with the defendant “even though Ms. Broadus had not actively worked for the defendant since May 11, 2018.”
Infor “denies that it engaged in discrimination or retaliation of any kind.”
First, it said that Broadus’ performance evaluations were “team-based,” but her individual work performances “demonstrated significant issues.” She “failed to follow through on action items or return emails and messages, arrived unprepared to meetings and generally did not follow instructions.” The company, however, continued to pay her from May through September, totaling $30,000, before they discovering her employment at Oracle.
During this time, the company said, Broadus, who was still working under her former married name, Griggs, continued to have access to Infor’s confidential information.
“Ms. Griggs, using the alias ‘Thea Broadus,’ surreptitiously and improperly accepted employment” with Oracle, Infor said, saying it is Infor’s “primary, direct competitor.”
But there was nothing surreptitious about it, King said. Broadus informed the company that she switched to her maiden name legally when Infor first hired her, but continued to use her married name for continuity with business contacts. Broadus was not actively employed at Infor and was only getting a salary because Infor wanted to prevent her “wage claim from accruing” in her discrimination suit, said King.
In a separate suit filed July 10 against Oracle – a publicly held California-based tech company with $40 billion in annual sales and offices in Manchester and Nashua – Broadus claims that the company retaliated against her for suing Infor.
“They didn’t want to tolerate someone who has the temerity to file such a discrimination suit,” said King.
Oracle sent Broadus a termination warning on Sept. September 6 on her Gmail account, not her work account, after learning of her suit against Infor, asking for her to obtain credit reports to “assist us in evaluating individuals for employment.” The email “reads as though it pertained to Ms. Broadus’ credit history and her hiring, notwithstanding that Ms. Broadus had been employed by Oracle for months.”
But the report from “HireRight” came “only days after Infor informed Oracle that Ms. Broadus had alleged race discrimination against Infor and had filed a Charge of Discrimination against Infor.“
Broadus said she didn’t see the Gmail, and when she finally learned of the investigation on Sept. 18, she left voicemails trying to explain that she no longer actively worked for Infor and that there was no “conflict of interest,” since their client base didn’t overlap. But by then it was too late, and Oracle terminated her on Sept. 27 because of her dual employment.
Oracle is already facing a massive discrimination complaint filed in January by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program, claiming women, African Americans and Asians are “systematically underpaid relative to their peers” by about $400 million, by relying on prior salary information and funneling non-white and non-male employees into lower-paid roles.
“This meritless lawsuit is based on false allegations and a seriously flawed process within the OFCCP that relies on cherry-picked statistics rather than reality,” said Oracle in a statement. “We fiercely disagree with the spurious claims and will continue in the process to prove them false. We are in compliance with our regulatory obligations, committed to equality, and proud of our employees.”
Oracle has yet to answer or comment on the Broadus suit. The Infor trial is scheduled to commence in May 2020, but it will probably be pushed back if it is consolidated with the Oracle suit.