SEATTLE, April 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman (“Milberg”) received a $11.1 million verdict today on behalf of client Scott Kingston who alleged IBM wrongfully terminated him after raising claims of racial bias in the treatment of his subordinates. Milberg attorneys Matthew E. Lee and Jeremy Williams, and Brittany Glass and Toby Marshall of Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC represented Mr. Kingston in a Zoom jury trial held in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
At the end of the third sales quarter in 2017, IBM sales manager Scott Kingston noticed a stark discrepancy between the commissions of two of his subordinates: Jerome Beard, a black salesman, and Nick Donato, a white salesman. While Mr. Donato received more than $1 million in uncapped commissions for a closed deal with SAS Institute, Mr. Beard’s commissions for a successful sale to HCL Technologies were slashed from more than $1 million to $205,000.
After 17 years working for IBM, Mr. Kingston understood that the company had a no-cap policy on commissions. In fact, as outlined in the plaintiff’s trial brief, internal IBM documents revealed that the company specifically prohibited caps believing that this helped to motivate its sellers.
When Mr. Kingston raised his concerns with his superiors, he called the difference in treatment between Mr. Beard and Mr. Donato “racial discrimination.”
Mr. Kingston recalled the conversation when he testified to the jury, saying, “‘They were telling me it wasn’t about money; it was some other reason. I flat out said, ‘You are leaving no possibility for anybody to conclude another reason than racial discrimination. You are foreclosing any other possible conclusion. You are going to get us sued.””
In April 2018, Mr. Kingston was fired for what IBM claimed was his poor judgement of approving Mr. Donato’s seven-figure commission the year prior. The manager in between Mr. Kingston and Mr. Donato was also terminated. Mr. Kingston claimed he never received a written explanation for why he was terminated for simply following company policy.
The Seattle jury found that Mr. Kingston proved his claims for wrongful termination violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination, as well as public policies regarding race discrimination and the withholding of wages of Jerome Beard.
Their $11.1 million verdict included damages for past economic loss, future economic loss, unpaid sales commissions for the first quarter of 2018, and emotional harm.
“We are proud of our client, Scott Kingston, for standing up for what’s right,” said Milberg Attorney Matthew E. Lee. “He deserved justice and, after three long years, this verdict has given him that.”
Toby Marshall of Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC said, “Corporations have an obligation to address discrimination in the workplace. Scott Kingston was simply trying to protect another employee, and today his actions were vindicated.”
“Scott Kingston made a brave decision to call out the bias he witnessed at IBM and he was wrongfully terminated because of it. He finally has the justice he deserves and Milberg is proud to have played a part in helping him obtain it.” added Senior Partner Dan Bryson. “Verdicts like these tell employers everywhere that they are not above the law.”
The case is Scott Kingston v. International Business Machines Corporation, case number 2:19-cv-01488, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
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About Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman
Established by members of Milberg Phillips Grossman LLP, Sanders Phillips Grossman LLC, Greg Coleman Law PC, and Whitfield Bryson LLP, Milberg represents plaintiffs in the areas of antitrust, securities, financial fraud, consumer protection, automobile emissions claims, defective drugs and devices, environmental litigation, financial and insurance litigation, and cyber law and security. Milberg has nearly 100 attorneys operating on three continents. The firm and its affiliates have recovered over $50 billion in verdicts and settlements. Milberg offices are located in New York, London, California, Georgia, Mississippi, Washington, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico.
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