The former top lawyer for New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly slapped a Manhattan security-services firm with a lawsuit Tuesday alleging she was forced into quitting her new job by peeved top company honchos who “undermined her authority” after she complained about a Black co-worker who was being harassed by racist comments.
The suit, filed in Manhattan federal court by Katherine A. Lemire, accuses Michael Stapleton Associates of retaliating against her because she spoke out against what she perceived to be unlawful racial discrimination by staffers against a Black human resources assistant.
Lemire served as special counsel to New York’s top cop for four years before leaving for the private-sector gig in March. Also a former Manhattan assistant U.S. attorney, Lemire quit her job as president of MSA’s Investigations Division in October.
“Lemire spoke out against what she perceived to be unlawful discrimination against an African-American employee by defendant,” the suit says. “In response… MSA repeatedly undermined her authority within her department, deprived her of the client contact that was a promised condition of her employment, attempted to redistribute a lucrative business operation under her control to another division, and fraudulently allowed Lemire’s division to operate without necessary licensing.”
Lemire got into hot water with MSA’s chairman George Harvey after siding with the company’s former CEO over his handling of a discrimination investigation into the racist comments. Harvey, the complaint alleges, attempted to suppress the probe.
The Black assistant had claimed that she was repeatedly the target of racist comments by some of her white co-workers, such as, “My grandfather owned your father” and “For Thanksgiving, are you having Popeye’s?”
Lemire, who thought the allegations had merit, openly questioned Harvey after he fired then-CEO Patrick Timlin after Timlin’s internal investigation found company honchos were well aware of the racist remarks and did nothing – except sometimes discourage the Black staffer from complaining about the alleged misconduct, the suit says.
The suit demands the company stop its “unlawful practices” of discrimination and seeks unspecified punitive damages.
Lawyers for Lemire and MSA did not immediately return messages. Kelly also did not return a call for comment.