PwC partner slams ‘discrimination by association’ after defending disabled colleague
A former PwC partner has alleged he was forced into early retirement after supporting a disabled colleague who filed a discrimination complaint against the Big Four firm.
Justin LaHood, a former tax partner in PwC’s financial services team, claimed he faced “discrimination by association” after standing up for a colleague who said he was abused because of his disability.
He said his efforts to accommodate the disabled employee “were not supported by other partners and company management, some of whom took steps to undermine the efforts I was making,” according to documents filed with him. a labor court.
The colleague, who was only referred to as “S” in the filings, lived with a neuro-diversity issue and worked closely with Mr. LaHood between 2014 and 2019.
The disabled colleague launched a grievance procedure against PwC in late 2018/early 2019, during which Mr LaHood supported the employee in interviews and raised objections to the way he had been treated.
The former partner claimed that as a result of ‘S” grievance and his eventual departure from the business, two partners took steps to deprive Mr. La Hood of his rights, including removing the estate from him. activity he had created at PwC.
Mr LaHood alleges that the company’s ‘discrimination’ against the disabled person and ‘discrimination by association’ against him were the real reasons for PwC’s decision to force him out of the company. company.
PwC said it “vigorously disputes” the allegations.
The case comes as businesses across the city try to boost diversity and inclusion within their ranks. Last month, an employment judge ruled against PwC’s request to strike Mr. LaHood’s associative direct discrimination claim at a preliminary hearing.
Judge Burge said: “I cannot conclude that the claim has no or little prospect of successfully arguing that the plaintiff was treated less favorably because of the protected feature of ‘S’.”
Mr. LaHood withdrew the claims of wrongful termination, reinstatement, damage to reputation and breach of contract before the hearing, as well as the claims against three PwC associates.
A PwC spokesperson said: “This was a preliminary hearing – we strongly contest Mr. La Hood’s complaint against the company which we believe is without merit. We are unable to comment. further comment on ongoing legal proceedings.
“PwC is focused on creating an inclusive culture – we are members of the Disability Confident Employers program to improve employment access, inclusion and progression for people with disabilities.”
Last year, PwC partners were paid an average of £868,000. Mr. LaHood has been contacted for comment.