Woman fired ‘for acting like a man’ wins $55 million payout
A HIGH-FLYING female executive was fired for being too aggressive, too emotional, too profane - basically, for "acting like a man," an arbitrator found.
Now Alexis Berger has had the last laugh after she was awarded a whopping $54.5 million ($US41 million) in compensation, the New York Post reports.
The 32-year-old raked in more than $US1 million a year, plus commissions, in her job at mobile advertising company Kargo Global, which she helped build into a $US100-million-a-year global juggernaut, court documents say. She also had a $US9 million stake in the firm.
Ms Berger was fired as Kargo's top sales executive last year - partly so colleagues could "try to claw back" her stake in the booming business, she alleged in court documents.
Ms Berger, who claimed she was discriminated against and wrongly terminated, wants a Manhattan federal court judge to uphold her hefty arbitration award.
During her four-year stint at the company, Kargo grew from $US5 million in annual revenue to $US135 million last year.
Ms Berger oversaw two sales regions, and supervised about 30 employees.
But other Kargo executives started targeting her with vague complaints about her behaviour - even though plenty of bad boys at the company needed lessons in business manners, arbitrator Billie Colombaro found.
They included one male executive who sparked sexual harassment complaints and another so "hot-headed" that his temper impacted the workplace.
"These men behaved in the same or worse manner as that for which Kargo disciplined Ms Berger," noted Judge Colombaro.
One of the men taunted Ms Berger as a gay woman. He talked about "flipping her back" and asked her and her partner to participate in a threesome, according to court papers.
"They criticised behaviour from her that they would accept from a man to run her out of the company. It is clear from Kargo's actions and collective attitude that a woman is not permitted to act like a man," Judge Colombaro wrote in an 83-page decision.
"Obviously, being a 'pit bull' - having a 'personality trait of aggressiveness' - was not only considered to be a positive approach and an expectation, it was also part of Kargo's culture for men. Ms Berger was the only one faulted for it," the arbitrator wrote.
Ms Berger, who is represented by lawyer Seth Raskin, said in court documents that her Kargo colleagues had embarked on "a campaign ... to break a woman."
Kargo wants the award slashed and denies wrongdoing. It said in a statement that Ms Berger was "a close friend of our founder and was the highest-paid executive in the entire company."
"We believe that the award rests upon a manifest disregard of NY Law," the company said. "We look forward to telling the full story in our upcoming legal filings."
This article first appeared at the New York Post and is reproduced here with permission.