This man was fired due to ageism and being ‘too American’

Marketing executive Gray Hollett claimed he was unjustly fired from his job for being “too American,” wearing khaki pants to work, and being too old.

Hollett submitted a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after he was fired from his position as a chief marketing officer at Boyden World Corporation.

According to his LinkedIn, Hollett worked at Boyden for 14 years before he was let go in January. He claims it wasn’t until late 2017 that board of directors chairman and managing partner of Germany, Jorg Kasten, started making derogatory comments about Hollett being “too American.”

“During the course of my employment at Boyden, I became aware that Chairman Kasten, along with other European partners and Board Members held openly and blatantly discriminatory attitudes towards certain employees at Boyden, like myself, that were born and raised in the United States,” Hollett stated in his complaint.

Hollett cited several examples in his complaint of times where he felt Kasten and other European directors revealed their “anti-American bias and animus.” On example took place in November of 2017, when Kasten allegedly scolded Hollett for wearing khaki pants during a board meeting. He was also told he should be more like one of the other, younger executives who, according to Hollett, consistently dressed in jeans and t-shirts.

In addition to the remarks regarding Hollett’s nationality, he also mentioned concern regarding an incident in August 2019, when Nick Robeson, the managing partner for Boyden UK, was upset over a marketing decision made by Hollett. According to Hollett, he was told that his explanation regarding the decision was “outdated” and it was “time to retire.” Hollett felt that the comments were ageist in nature.

“It was very upsetting and the kind of the way it happened was quite disconcerting,” Hollett told The New York Post, in an interview.

According to the EEOC, when it comes to ageism in the workplace “…the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that aren’t very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”

Ageism is a problem that is still very prevalent in America, where 20% of workers are over the age of 55. According to a 2018 AARP survey, 1 in 4 workers over the age of 45 have received negative remarks about their age from a supervisor or coworker. What’s more, is that 3 out of 5 older workers said they have seen or personally experienced age discrimination in the workplace.

“Everyone knows [age discrimination] happens every day to workers in all kinds of jobs, but few speak up. It’s an open secret,” the EEOC’s acting chair Victoria Lipnic said.

Boyden is a full-service executive search firm with offices located in over 40 countries worldwide. However, their headquarters are located in Purchase, NY.

Boyden is a full-service executive search firm with offices located in over 40 countries worldwide. However, their headquarters are located in Purchase, NY.

Hollett, who is originally from Long Island, NY, was living and working in Connecticut at the time he was let go from Boyden, although he worked with many of the International offices, specifically in Europe.

Hollett said he reached out to Boyden CEO Trina Gordon to express concerns about Robeson’s discriminatory remarks several times. According to his complaint, “nothing was ever done.”

“I made it clear to Kasten and Gordon that I believed ageism and national origin discrimination were the key drivers of my negative treatment — and that I felt ‘shaken’ by these unsubstantiated attacks,” Hollett wrote in the filing.

Hollett told The Post that he is disheartened and struggling “as he navigates a pandemic-ravaged job market.” Although, according to LinkedIn, he recently started a full-time job as a managing partner at Thinkativity Brand.

Although Hollett is a Caucasian man, in his complaint he did point to a statement on Boyden’s website regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and a commitment to combat racism and discrimination. He felt that this statement made his termination “particularly hypocritical” and accused the company statement of being “nothing more than shameless self-promotion without meaningful, genuine intent.”

Boyden’s global head of marketing, Chris Swee, responded by saying they have no comment at this time.

“Boyden stands by its record of diversity,” he added.