Several CEOs have created scandals recently after making racist remarks or taking discriminatory action. Former CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman was forced to resign after making statements targeting George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. “I’m stepping down as CEO of CrossFit, Inc., and I have decided to retire,” Glassman said in a statement. “I created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members.”
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski sparked outrage when he said of a black girl’s untimely death, “parents failed those kids.” The office of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a statement denouncing the CEO for “victim shaming,” and Kempczinski apologized for his remarks.
Former employees revealed evidence of a PulteGroup executive who “openly waved” a noose in front of employees, including at least two Black employees, while warning them “not to hang themselves.” The discriminatory behavior of Ryan Marshall, the CEO of PulteGroup, resulted in a lawsuit against him and the company.
PulteGroup issued a statement calling the claims “reprehensible,” but former PulteGroup employee Richard Turnbow said that CEO Ryan Marshall not only knew about the “noose incident,” but also hushed it up and fired the black employees who raised the alarm.
“Ryan Marshall has fired just one of the players in the racist and discriminatory scheme our lawsuit made public,” said Turnbow. “He also has not sent me or my fellow litigants an apology. We lost our employment because we were targeted, lynched, harassed, and terminated or chased from PulteGroup. The Atlanta office is a mess and it’s run by the CEO. The buck starts and stops with him.”
Marshall and other named PulteGroup senior executives are being sued for a sweeping conspiracy to reward personal loyalty over merit and, in some specific cases, white employees over Black employees.
PulteGroup’s Jim Zeumer, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications, told Lansing CBS affiliate WLNS Channel 6: “Our company leadership is committed to ensuring an environment of inclusion where all people are respected and valued. What is depicted in the images is despicable and has no place in our company nor in our society. The allegations are not consistent with our values and corporate culture.”
Marshall has denied the allegations, but plaintiff Idus Hartsfield opened up to CNN about Marshall’s behavior.
“It was a frigid reminder, like getting dumped in a bucket of ice, like (seeing that) things are not progressing like you may have thought,” said Hartsfield, who added he was afraid to report the incident to human resources and worried he would be targeted, but “then it started eating away at me, I did start having like anxiety and it was a good period of time to filter through the different emotions that I had. I couldn’t sleep thinking about it and that’s what ultimately compelled me to go to HR.”
The complaint is being prosecuted in Michigan under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, where PulteGroup was founded in 1950 and has its registered office. PulteGroup is a Fortune 500 publicly traded corporation that trades under the ticker symbol “PHM” on the New York Stock Exchange. PulteGroup is the country’s third-largest homebuilder.