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Former employee files against AES

Disgruntled ex-financial controller cites multiple instances of unlawful discrimination, intimidation and harassment, in addition to alleged assault, writes Mel Lambert.

Former AES financial controller Christine Carleo has filed a summons in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, citing multiple instances of unlawful discrimination, intimidation and sexual harassment, in addition to alleged physical assault, writes Mel Lambert.

The defendants in Index number 101507/12, filed on February 12, 2012, in the County Clerk’s office, New York, are named as the Audio Engineering Society and former executive director Roger K. Furness, who left the post on 31 December 2011.

The summons cites 21 acts of “illegal discrimination” … “relating to [Carleo’s] gender and sexual orientation,” from June 2002 to 21 March, 2011. The former controller was terminated on 22 March, 2011, “as the proverbial last straw after subjecting [Carleo] to the continuous pattern and practice of discrimination with a hostile work environment,” according to the seven-page summons. The filing also alleges that the AES “took no action to protect [Carleo’s] rights”, and is seeking compensatory damages of $95,000, plus punitive damages of $400,000, attorney fees and related costs.

Although, on advice of counsel, Carleo declined to comment on the lawsuit, PSNEurope has learned that the working environment within the AES New York headquarters was often far from harmonious. On several occasions, PSNEurope has discovered, the former controller needed to secure overdue expense reports and other financial material from the former executive director. At the time, Carleo was responsible for overseeing and verifying all of the Society’s financial transactions and yearly audits. She has noted previously that essential financial information was often withheld; as a result she declined to sign-off on some year-end AES account reports.

Such an environment, she claims, negatively impacted the working relationship between herself and Furness, “culminating in a serious physical assault by defendant Furness against [Carleo] in February 2011,” according to the summons. “Furness then orchestrated a sudden termination of the plaintiff’s employment with AES,” the document continues.

Regarding her delay in filing such a summons, Carleo anticipated that the five-member AES Executive Committee and Board of Governors would re-instate her following the alleged illegal termination. When, after several months, no such resolution was reached the former controller decided to proceed with the lawsuit.

Approached for an official response from the society, AES president Jan Abildgaard Pedersen (pictured) told us: “We served a verified answer to the claims of bias made by a terminated employee denying each and every allegation made in the complaint. This has been sworn to under oath by an officer of the Society and the individual defendant, our deputy director. Upon advice of counsel we believe the lawsuit is entirely without merit and will be defended against vigorously.”

A court date has yet to be scheduled for the summons hearing.