General Electric Race Discrimination Action

Case name: Marcel “Marc” T. Thomas, et al., v. General Electric Company, et al.

Case type: Race Discrimination

Filed in: [U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut]

Docket: [Case No.: 05cv00788]

Case Summary

On May 17, 2005, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a class action lawsuit against General Electric, alleging systemic racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of The Civil Rights Act, and denial of equal pay and promotion, in violation of the Connecticut Human Rights Act. The Plaintiff and Class Representative, Marc T. Thomas, also brought individual claims of retaliation and breach of implied contract against GE.

According to the Class Complaint, GE’s discriminatory practices were part of a systemic problem at a company where the percentage of Black executives and officers remained in the single digits.

Mr. Thomas served as Chairman and CEO of General Electric Aviation Materials, L.P., one of GE’s subsidiary transportation companies. During Mr. Thomas’ tenure, his department saw a 162% profit growth in a single quarter. The Complaint alleged that, shortly after Mr. Thomas implemented a merit-based, non-discriminatory bonus plan, he was told that he would not be promoted, would not receive a salary increase nor the stock options awarded to top performers, and would not merit a bonus commensurate with his performance.

The Complaint alleged that GE similarly discriminated against other Black managers by denying them pay, promotions, growth opportunities, and other perquisites given white managers. Further, the Complaint alleged, GE’s dispute resolution policy was a self-fulfilling prophecy that prevented employees from obtaining required documents, depositions, and other evidence necessary for a full and fair hearing of the issues concerning racial discrimination.

In addition to significant monetary relief, the Complaint sought reforms to policies and procedures at GE that fostered discrimination and prevented Black employees from rising to positions of leadership at the company.

The matter was concluded in 2006.

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Attorneys Involved in the Case