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White Woman Makes Racist Posts on Social Media Then Sues Her Ex-Employer for Racial Discrimination After Getting Fired

A Pittsburgh bank employee launched a lawsuit against the Bank of New York Mellon on Friday, Nov. 16 after she claimed she was fired from the company because of her race.

Lisa Ellis, the former senior analyst at BNY Mellon’s wealth management department in Pittsburgh, said she was a victim of racial discrimination after being fired over a social media post.

“We believe that she was targeted because she is white, and that she would not have been fired if she was not white,” Ellis’ attorney Vincent Colianni told the Tribune-Review on Monday.

Lisa Ellis

The Bank of New York Mellon is being sued for racial discrimination by a white former employee.

Ellis claimed in her lawsuit that her former employer violated her civil rights by terminating her “without notice and without conducting an investigation.” She was fired from her job in July after making a social media post referencing a group protesting the police shooting of  the police shooting of unarmed teen Antwon Rose, who was fatally shot in June by an East Pittsburgh officer during a routine traffic stop.

The former BNY Mellon employee went under a Facebook post about a Bell Acres councilman charged with reckless driving after he drove through the group of protesters. Ellis wrote, “Total BS. Too bad he didnt have a bus to plow thru.”

According to the lawsuit, “Ellis believed that the protesters were to blame and that the councilman was unjustly charged.”

Colianni said his client regrets her choice of words and added “it was never meant as an attack or a criticism of Antwon Rose or his family or the protesters.”

“Her comment had nothing to do with the merits of the protest or what they’re advocating. … it was the methods and means they were using, blocking public streets and being very aggressive,”said Colianni. “She would have made the same remark had they been protesting climate change.”

Officials from the bank said they fired Ellis because she violated its code of conduct.

“BNY Mellon expects our employees to adhere to our Code of Conduct and other policies to ensure a culture of diversity, inclusion and respect for all individuals,” BNY Mellon stated on Monday while confirming Ellis’ unemployment with the company.

Colianni said his clients comments were not racially motivated or was not meant to incite violence.

“The protest was about race, but she wasn’t critical of the merit of the protests or the underlying cause. She absolutely understands and sympathizes with their cause. It was their tactics,” the Pine-Township attorney said. “But, because her comment involved a protest over the shooting of a black man by a white police officer, the comment was construed as racist because it came from a white person.”

Colianni went onto say that BNY Mellon doesn’t have a policy prohibiting employees from expressing private views via social media.

In Ellis’ wrongful termination lawsuit, she’s suing for compensatory and punitive damages, including back pay, front pay and mental and emotional distress.

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