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Milberg Wins $11.1 Million Jury Verdict For Wrongful Termination of IBM Sales Manager

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April 17, 2021

Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman (“Milberg”) received a $11.1 million verdict on behalf of client Scott Kingston, who claimed IBM wrongfully terminated him after he raised allegations of racial discrimination in the treatment of his subordinates.

The verdict included compensation for past and potential economic loss, outstanding sales commissions for the first quarter of 2018, and emotional distress.

Mr. Kingston found a significant difference in the commissions of two of his subordinates: Jerome Beard, a black salesman, and Nick Donato, a white salesman, in the final quarter of 2017. Although Mr. Donato earned over $1 million in uncapped commissions for a closed deal with SAS Institute, Mr. Beard’s commissions for a successful sale to HCL Technologies were reduced from over $1 million to $205,000. Mr. Kingston discovered the company had a no-cap policy on commissions. According to internal IBM records, the company specifically prohibited caps in the belief that this would help motivate its sellers. As Mr. Kingston expressed his concerns to his colleagues, he referred to the inequality in treatment between Mr. Beard and Mr. Donato as “racial discrimination.”

Mr. Kingston was fired in April 2018 for what IBM alleged was gross incompetence in accepting Mr. Donato’s seven-figure commission the year before. The manager who worked with Mr. Kingston and Mr. Donato was also terminated. Mr. Kingston said he was never given a written explanation as to why he was fired for merely following the policy of IBM.

The Seattle jury agreed that Mr. Kingston’s arguments for wrongful termination violated the Washington Law Against Discrimination, as well as public laws about racial discrimination and Jerome Beard’s wage withholding.

Milberg attorneys Matthew E. Lee and Jeremy Williams, and Brittany Glass and Toby Marshall of Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC represented Mr. Kingston in a Zoom jury trial held in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The case is Scott Kingston v. International Business Machines Corporation, case number 2:19-cv-01488, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The verdict is a tremendous victory for our community and our clients.

Losing a job and facing discrimination at work can be a stressful and life-changing experience. When faced with monthly expenses and other financial commitments, an unexpected loss of income can be catastrophic. It is important to understand the legal right to claim compensation for unfair termination, as well as how to construct a successful employment case.

Our attorneys have a proven track record of success in a broad variety of employment disputes and handling wrongful termination cases. Get in touch with Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman PLLC today to discuss your employment case.

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