Real estate executive claims age, gender discrimination

Suzy Reingold of Cushman & Wakefield believes she was unfairly passed over for a promotion

Many have had the unfortunate experience of being passed over for a job for someone supposedly less qualified. But does that necessarily mean that discrimination occurred? One executive of a major commercial real estate firm intends to find out.

Suzy Reingold, chief operating officer of Cushman & Wakefield Inc., has filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court claiming the company passed her over for what she calls a “promised promotion” because of gender and age discrimination. Reingold, 66, seeks $20 million in damages.

The suit claims that Reingold received verbal assurances that “the job is yours” when Joseph Harbart, the company’s president for the New York region, left in 2012. But instead, Cushman & Wakefield launched a national search, eventually hiring Ron Lo Russo, 38, from Vornado Realty Trust.

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Cushman & Wakefield called the suit “completely without merit” and said that they plan to fight the case rather than settle.

Recently, other major companies have paid dearly in discrimination cases. In late August, Merrill Lynch settled one major race discrimination case for $160 million. A Department of Labor judge, meanwhile, ordered Bank of America to pay $2.2 million in a race discrimination case of its own in later September.

And in the future, companies could see even more risk of discrimination suits if the U.S. government passes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would protect sexual orientation and gender identity in the same that race, color, religion, sex, national origin and disability are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

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