Former analyst sues Oppenheimer, alleging discrimination

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 08, 2017 6:46 PM

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) - Financial services firm Oppenheimer & Co Inc was sued on Wednesday by a gay former analyst who claimed he suffered retaliation and was eventually fired for taking parental and medical leave.

In the complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Hoai Ngo accused the firm, a subsidiary of Oppenheimer Holdings Inc, of violating state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Ngo is seeking reinstatement at the company and unspecified monetary damages.

An Oppenheimer spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

New York-based Oppenheimer hired Ngo as an analyst in 2009, according to the complaint. He received positive feedback from managers, was consistently the highest-paid analyst in his group and was promoted to a management position in 2013, the complaint said.

In May 2014, Ngo told one of his managers that he was gay and that he and his partner were having a baby via surrogacy in California, and asked about taking leave, according to the lawsuit.

Ngo claims that Oppenheimer officially offered all employees 12 weeks' parental leave, but that managers discouraged him from taking the full 12 weeks and expected him to work remotely while on leave.

He said female employees were allowed to take the full 12 weeks' leave around the same time, and were not expected to work remotely.

Ngo began his leave in late June 2014 following the birth of his daughter. He told his managers that July that he would return to work in late August, according to the complaint.

Before he could return, however, Ngo suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm that required emergency surgery, delaying his return until November 2014, the lawsuit said.

After he returned to work, Ngo said, he was demoted and his compensation was significantly reduced.

In June 2016, Ngo was fired, according to the complaint. Ngo was told that his dismissal was unrelated to performance, and that his position had been eliminated because of budget cuts.

Ngo claims the explanation was a "pretext" and that no other employees in his group were laid off at the time.

Ngo is bringing claims for sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as for violations of the federal Family Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and various New York anti-discrimination laws.

The case is Ngo v. Oppenheimer & Co Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-cv-01727.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)