Ex-Raymond James Exec Sues for Sex Bias, Claims Promotion Denied for Being "Too Aggressive”

A former executive at Raymond James and Associates has filed a sex bias lawsuit against the financial services company in Florida federal court.

Joena Bartolini Mitchell alleges that she was terminated after criticizing the company for reneging on a promised promotion, citing her as "too aggressive." She claims the company violated Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act when she raised concerns about a sexist culture and took leave to care for her sick mother. Mitchell contends that her male colleagues subjected her to sexist criticism over the years, and despite pointing out the double standards, the company did not address the issue but instead subjected her to coaching on her demeanor.

In spring of 2020, Mitchell was promised a promotion to a senior vice president role, but the company later reversed its decision, which Mitchell alleges was due to her gender. Mitchell claims she had already taken on the same amount of responsibility as two male senior VPs, who were paid more than her.

Additionally, Mitchell claims she faced retaliation after taking leave in late 2021 and early 2022 to care for her mother and recover from a COVID-19 infection. Upon her return, she was criticized for being slow to catch up on emails, and her responsibilities were gradually reduced, leading to her suspension in October 2022 for accidentally sending business-related material to her personal email.

Mitchell claims that her suspension and subsequent termination, one day after filing a discrimination charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, were retaliatory actions. Despite her 15 years of success at Raymond James, Mitchell asserts that the company perpetuated sexist stereotypes, ultimately leading to her unjust termination.

Retaliation for Reporting Sex Based Discrimination

If you've reported discrimination at work, you have the right to be free from retaliation by your employer. Employer retaliation occurs when an employer takes any negative action against an employee for engaging in a protected activity.

These protected activities can include:

1. Reporting discrimination, harassment, or other illegal activity: This includes situations where an employee reports discrimination based on race, gender, religion, age, disability, or other protected characteristics. It also covers reporting sexual harassment, safety hazards, or other illegal activities within the workplace.

2. Filing a claim or complaint: This includes filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), or any other government agency responsible for enforcing workplace laws. It also covers filing a lawsuit against the employer.

3. Participating in an investigation: This includes cooperating with an investigation into discrimination, harassment, or other workplace violations.

4. Opposing discriminatory practices: This includes refusing to participate in discriminatory activities or speaking out against them.

5. Exercising other protected rights: This includes taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), joining a union, or engaging in other activities protected by law.

Have You Experienced Discrimination or Retaliation at Work?

If you or someone you know is facing sex-based discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, consider reaching out to the Kardell Law Group. Our team of experienced attorneys is dedicated to protecting whistleblowers and advocating for workplace equality. Don't let fear or intimidation silence your commitment to a fair and respectful workplace. Contact us today, and let us stand with you.