2/7/2014Redflex Faces Employment Discrimination Lawsuit
Embattled speed camera and red light camera company faces charges of anti-woman and anti-Australian bias.
Redflex Traffic Systems is in the news for the alleged use of bribes to land contracts in a scandal that has spread to a dozen states. The firm's woes have taken a toll in the form of lost contracts, including that of Chicago, Illinois, cutting business by 25 percent of its business. The company is also defending against an ongoing employment lawsuit claiming the Redflex office in the US harbors anti-Australian bias.
In July, US Magistrate Judge Norah McCann King refused the efforts of Redflex to have the lawsuit thrown out on grounds of futility. Redflex is based in Melbourne, Australia, but Catherine Petzel, a salesman fired in 2012, charges the same individuals at the heart of the bribery scandal -- US operations chief Karen Finley, and Executive Vice President Aaron M. Rosenberg -- with anti-Australian and anti-woman bias, respectively.
"In actuality, defendant Rosenberg, with defendant Finley's support, wanted to fire Ms. Petzel," Petzel argued in her amended complaint. "Mr. Rosenberg's desire to terminate Ms. Petzel was motivated by gender discrimination. Ms. Finley's desire to terminate Ms. Petzel was motivated by national origin discrimination."
Finley attempted to argue that the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio had no jurisdiction over her because she does not spend much time in Ohio.
"After it became clear that Ms. Petzel's job performance was unsatisfactory and was not improving, Aaron Rosenberg, Redflex's Executive Vice President of Sales and Business Development, and I discussed terminating Ms. Petzel's employment," Finley told the court. "All such discussions took place at Redflex's headquarters in Arizona. The company's decision to terminate Ms. Petzel's employment was also made at its headquarters in Arizona... At no time during my employment with Redflex did I have any continuous and systematic contacts with Ohio."
The court wants to hear more from Petzel, who explained how she felt discriminated against by the traffic camera company.
"Ms. Finley questioned how Ms. [Petzel's] accent -- which is relatively modest, and results in no language barrier whatsoever -- 'was received' in the marketplace," Petzel attorney John C. Camillus claimed. "Ms. Finley also questioned the propriety of having an Australian in Ms. Petzel's position, expressing a concern that potential customers might view Redflex as being too Australian."
Petzel insists that Rosenberg used a 'performance improvement plan' to disguise the discriminatory nature of her firing. In the ongoing case, Redflex continues to deny all the charges.