Former leader accuses American Express of firing him for being white

A former American Express director has gone to mediation with the finance company over his federal complaint, claiming he was fired for being white and opposing the company’s diversity agenda.

Brian Netzel, a 62-year-old former customer manager in Arizona, filed the complaint late last month with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He began mediation with American Express on Thursday.

“On October 30, 2020, AmEx unequivocally terminated my employment as part of a ‘diversity’ policy that rewarded business leaders for making their departments less ‘white,'” his EEOC complaint states. as a result of being an older white man, a demographic that the company specifically sought to reduce in leadership positions like my own, and as a direct retaliation for my declared opposition to AmEx’s racially discriminatory and hostile policies. “

Mr. Netzel said he was fired by a higher-ranking executive who earned on his dismissal because the company awards bonus points for having more colored people.

American Express began training based on critical race theory and subsequently fired Mr. Nextel after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May 2020, according to Mr. Netzel and company documents published by Christopher Rufo of the Manhattan Institute.

Critical race theory was developed at graduate and law schools in the 1970s and is an analytical tool based on Marxist critical studies. It argues that racism is a fundamental element of American society and government and is important for understanding and evaluating U.S. laws, policies, and programs.

American Express said Mr Nettel’s claim was “without justification.”

“We have a long-standing commitment to upholding our corporate values, which includes fostering a diverse and inclusive culture where all colleagues feel welcome and heard and have equal opportunities to thrive,” said company spokeswoman Leah Gerstner.

“Our diversity, justice and inclusion programs are solely about maintaining this commitment and are not based on any specific theory, nor are they targeted at a specific group of employees,” Ms. Gerstner said. “Advancement and compensation without our company is based solely on individual business and management performance. Any characterization of our company and culture to the contrary is just wrong.”

According to company records, American Express ordered employees to undergo “anti-racist” training sessions, where they were forced to identify their “privilege” and define themselves based on “race, sexual orientation, body type, religion, disability status, age, gender identity. [and] citizenship.”

In addition, American Express paid Harvard Kennedy School professor Khalil Muhammad to lecture on company employees. Sir. Muhammad, the great-grandson of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, spoke on the subject of race in corporate America and denounced capitalism and American Express for alleged evils visited by colored people.

According to his EEOC complaint, Mr. Netzel protested against internal pressure to adapt to left-leaning positions, which he said gave a distorted view of American Express’ core credit business.

“Our members were burned out of their business,” he said of riots that erupted during racial justice protests following the Floyd assassination. “It seemed like a bizarre position based on the company.”

Sir. Netzel also said he would have been on edge with the law if he had followed Mr Muhammad’s advice. “He insisted in his speech that we treat blacks differently from whites, which in the credit industry is illegal,” he said. Netzel. “I was floorless.”

Sir. Netzel expressed concern over the training and asked why conservative blacks like Thomas Sowell or Robert Woodson were excluded. He also posted memes on his individual Facebook page mocking people like social justice advocate Shaun King, whose fundraising has drawn criticism, and Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who pretended to be black and headed the Seattle NAACP department.

By dismissing him, American Express quoted his post on social media and even a private text discussion he had with a friend about whether Popeye’s or Chick-fil-A had superior fried chicken, according to Mr. Netzel’s lawyer, David Pivtorak.

“I had posted jokes that were critical of ‘wake-up’ism taking over the country, and I had also been critical of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for painting’ Black Lives Matter ‘on the streets of Manhattan outside Trump. Tower, “said Mr. Netzel. .

Mr. Nettel’s position was eliminated, not by his direct supervisor for reasons, but by another manager who would benefit from dismissing white employees, Mr. Pivtorak.

“There was an extremely shady procedural aspect to all of this,” the lawyer said. “It was not the usual command path …”

The EEOC complaint states that the company ignored anti-discrimination legislation in an attempt to obtain the newly commissioned equity.

“AmEx made it clear that the demographics of … positions need to change to reflect their proportionate representation in the general population,” the complaint said. “The announcement was made without any explanation or assurance that the company would still comply with applicable anti-discrimination laws to achieve its goal.”

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