Korn Ferry Sued for Gay-Bias

September 22, 2009 – According to a story reported by the Wall Street Journal, former senior client partner Marti Smye has sued Korn/Ferry International for allegedly firing her because she is gay. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims that Korn/Ferry breached her employment contract by dismissing her last year and not paying her nearly $4 million that she earned in bonuses. The case is set for trial on March 1. Korn/Ferry's "workplace was permeated with antigay animus," the lawsuit states, describing alleged antigay comments made by top Korn/Ferry executives. A Korn/Ferry spokeswoman said the charges are "baseless" and are "being vigorously defended" but declined to comment further. In January, the firm sued Ms. Smye and her partner, Denise Tobin-McCarthy, who also worked for Korn/Ferry, for allegedly misappropriating confidential information, including client names and contact information. Korn/Ferry recently dropped the suit. Ms. Smye denies those allegations stating Korn/Ferry "was discriminating against me and they were also not paying me what I had earned. I believe it was due to my sexual orientation." Ms. Smye joined the firm in 2005, when the company acquired her executive-coaching business, KFY Coach LLC. She was assigned to build and lead an executive-coaching and consulting practice within Korn/Ferry. The company terminated her employment contract in December 2008. In the lawsuit, Ms. Smye says senior leaders at Korn/Ferry began openly making antigay comments around 2007. The complaint alleges that Jeff Rosin, president of Korn/Ferry Canada, cautioned employees against associating with gay employees, including Ms. Smye. It claims that Mr. Rosin fired Ms. Tobin-McCarthy after learning that she and Ms. Smye were dating.

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