A woman who served as a special counsel for NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly (pictured center) claims she was terminated from the position at a leading security firm for standing up for a Black colleague in lawsuit filed on Tuesday, the New York Daily News reports.
Katherine Lemire, who counseled security management team Michael Stapleton Associates, says she spoke up for Chanissa Green, an HR assistant reportedly told to not wear braids by MSA VP Of Operations Joe Atherall.
“When someone like me … sees someone with a style like that, we think ghetto – not professional,” the suit quotes Atherall as having told Green, an African-American. He also allegedly promoted an Eurocentric standard of beauty.
“I’ll tell you what’s beautiful: my daughter, with blond hair and blue eyes,” he allegedly said.
Lemire also claims MSA heads “whitewashed” a discrimination investigation into the allegations, firing an employee over his handling of the probe. The suit discusses how she was punished for backing Green, eventually forcing her to leave the company.
“In response to Lemire’s opposition to its unlawful conduct, MSA repeatedly undermined her authority within her department … and fraudulently allowed Lemire’s division to operate without necessary licensing,” it said. “As a result of defendant’s retaliatory conduct, Lemire was forced to resign from employment with the defendant.”
MSA Chairman George Harvey emphatically refuted Lemire’s claims.
“MSA categorically denies that Ms. Lemire was subjected to any retaliation,” Harvey said in a statement. “The complaint … is full of inaccurate and baseless allegations … The company intends to vigorously defend this case.”
Lemire seeks back pay, damages and corporate reforms in her lawsuit.