May 4, 2015 - Korn/Ferry International is the world’s largest executive search firm. This makes it big news that the firm is currently in the midst of an intense legal dispute over the termination of one of their top executives, Robert A. Damon.
Robert A. Damon is a former executive chairman of the Americas. In a recent lawsuit he alleges that he was fired in retaliation for his complaints about Chief Executive Gary Burnison’s treatment of a number of female employees. Mr. Damon made his complaints regarding the inappropriate treatment of his colleagues to board members. As a result of his firing, Damon alleges that he lost over $1.7 million in deferred compensation because he was fired for cause. Korn/Ferry denies the allegations.
Korn/Ferry claims that Mr. Damon’s complaints are simply an attempt to downplay/deflect the actual reason behind his termination. The company states that Mr. Damon was “terminated with cause” due to inappropriate personal behavior, flagrant violations of company policy, and material breaches of his employment contract.
Having the dispute go public holds potential embarrassment for the high-profile search firm as they market themselves as a provider of “talent management solutions.” The suit was filed by one of Korn/Ferry’s very own “talents.” Mr. Damon, age 67, was recruited by Korn/Ferry back in 2004 as president of North America, the company’s most substantial unit. He was later promoted to oversee the company’s Americas region.
Korn/Ferry’s 444 recruiters have helped to place leading executives at major corporations such as: Office Depot, Inc., Target Corp., Major League Baseball, etc. Korn/Ferry has held the top spot in the global and US search industry for over 10 years. Korn/Ferry’s own Mr. Burnison. Who has led the company since 2007, has written three different leadership books during his time as CEO. Mr. Burnison, Korn/Ferry CEO, is named specifically as a defendant in the lawsuit alongside Korn/Ferry with allegations that he engaged in a pattern of abuse and discrimination negatively affecting female employees. Allegations state this the discrimination and abuse towards female employees began in 2010.
Experts indicate that Damon’s suit against Korn/Ferry is exciting because it’s not very often that male employees sue employers for retaliation as a result of speaking out about alleged discrimination and abuse of women in the workplace.