Thrivent executive fired, Gregory M. Smith lawsuit says he was fired because he is black, Represented by attorney Clayton Halunen, “We are going to get rid of that black piece of shit”


From the Star Tribune.

“Executive sues Thrivent, saying he was fired because he is black”

“A black executive claims he was fired as president of a Thrivent Financial subsidiary because he accused a co-worker of racial discrimination, according to a lawsuit he filed against the financial services firm.

Gregory M. Smith, who said he was recruited by Thrivent in 2016 to help grow its network of independent insurance brokers, said he was stunned to encounter discrimination at a Fortune 500 company whose mission is “helping Christians be wise with money and live generously.”

“I was shocked,” said Smith, 56, who has worked at some of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. “I have never been treated so badly in my life.”

In a written statement, Thrivent denied the allegations and predicted the company will win the court battle over the lawsuit filed this month in Hennepin County.”

“Within months, Smith had laid off about half of his 15-member staff, most of whom quickly found jobs with other Thrivent companies, according to Smith’s attorney, Clayton Halunen. In an interview, Smith said some of the workers lacked the skills he needed, while others were terminated because he was concerned about their “exorbitant” spending on business trips. He said all of the terminated workers were white.

“I was the only person of color when I came in,” Smith said in the interview. His lawsuit claims that the presidents of seven other Thrivent subsidiaries are all white.

Thrivent declined to provide any data on the racial makeup of its executive team or its overall workforce.”

“Smith said his new team produced quick results, with the number of new clients climbing from 1,000 to 10,000 in less than a year. He said he also recruited 4,000 new financial representatives. Altogether, Smith said, he was beating his first-year goals by 250 percent, putting him on track for a bonus of $1 million or more. His annual salary was $270,000.

Thrivent did not dispute Smith’s success in meeting financial goals.

To celebrate, Smith said in the interview, he took his team out for dinner at the Capital Grille in downtown Minneapolis after work one night in December 2016. About 6 p.m., while waiting for some of his workers to show up, Smith said he strolled into the bar area and overheard Huth talking about him with another member of the team.

In the lawsuit, Smith said Huth allegedly said to the other worker: “We are going to get rid of that black piece of shit,” referring to him. In the lawsuit, Smith said Huth noticed him standing there and looked at him “sheepishly … apparently scared that he had overheard” the remark.”

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