Editor's note: This is an updated version of an earlier article. It adds that a settlement was reached in 2014.
PHILADELPHIA - An international company specializing in human resources consulting and technology services that has its U.S. headquarters in suburban Philadelphia has settled allegations by a former employee that it violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to properly pay overtime wages.
The plaintiff, Daudi M. Mwangangi, also claimed his June 2012 firing was retaliatory in nature.
Mwangangi, a native of the African country of Kenya who resided in Carmel, Ind., at the time he filed his lawsuit, first began his employment with Wayne, Pa.-based Kenexa Technology Inc. in November 2011, the 2013 complaint says.
He says he had been assigned to work at a client of the defendant’s, Eli Lilly & Company, which is located in Indianapolis.
The plaintiff also worked remotely from his home in Carmel on the weekends, the suit states.
According to the complaint, which was filed at the federal courthouse in Philadelphia by Montgomery County employment attorney Andrew S. Abramson, Mwangangi, who earned $75,000 annually, experienced disparaging treatment at the hands of an operations manager.
The manager, who is white, singled out and targeted the plaintiff because of his national origin, telling Mwangangi that the company didn’t want people with foreign accents talking to Lilly directors, the plaintiff says.
The manager traveled to Lilly’s Indiana location in the spring of 2012 to advise a Lilly employee that the plaintiff should not be on their team because of his accent and because Mwangangi was not “polished enough,” the lawsuit states.
The plaintiff says he soon complained about the comments and treatment to Kenexa’s director of client relations.
The lawsuit states that in April 2012, the director told Mwangangi that Lilly valued his performance and contributions and had no problem with the plaintiff, but she was concerned that the plaintiff wouldn’t advance in the company and was not promotable because he “was not polished,” a judgment that the suit claims was formed due to Mwangangi’s Kenyan accent.
The director also told Mwangangi that the plaintiff’s hiring was a big mistake for Kenexa and Lilly, the suit claims.
Mwangangi lodged a formal discrimination complaint with Kenexa’s human resources department in May 2012, the complaint says, but no action was ever taken by company officials.
The plaintiff was terminated on June 5, 2012, allegedly due to the fact that he was insubordinate.
A white male was tapped to replace Mwangangi, the suit says.
Mwangangi allegedly sustained financial damages due to lost wages and benefits and also experienced emotional distress tied to his firing and discriminatory treatment before that.
The complaint contained counts of retaliation and discrimination based upon national origin. It also contained a count alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
In 2014, the sides reached a confidential settlement. The docket shows Kenexa has paid the amount in full.