With its reputation and millions of dollars on the line, mobile ad firm Kargo is fighting a gender discrimination suit filed by former sales SVP Alexis Berger.
This summer, Berger was awarded more than $40 million in a third-party ruling.
In response, Kargo is now moving to vacate or substantially modify the arbitration award, according to a new request filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Regardless of her gender, Kargo’s lawyers make the case that Berger’s leadership skills left much to be desired.
“For over a year, female subordinates complained strongly about [Berger’s] management style, including unprofessional and abusive conduct,” they write in the filing.
Kargo’s lawyers contend that the firm was forced to reassign Berger to a “non-managerial role” after two of her female subordinates threatened to leave the company.
Ultimately, Berger was fired after refusing to accept a less prominent position, according to Kargo’s lawyers.
Kargo’s lawyers also take issue with the arbitrator in the case, Judge Billie Colombaro, for permitting an original claim of roughly $3 million to “mushroom” into a $41 million award.
"This is an arbitrator who … demonstrated 'evident partiality' in favor of Petitioner … by permitting a $3 million initial claim to transform into a $41 million award," they assert.
In addition, the award was "based in major part upon invocation of quadruple damages under the New York Labor Law -- a statute which had no applicability to Petitioner, an out-of-state employee," Kargo’s legal team argues.
“Put simply, the New York Labor Law has absolutely no applicability to an employee located in Illinois,” they state.
Based out of Chicago, Berger previously served as Kargo’s SVP of sales covering the Midwest and West Coast.
The filing does not dispute Berger’s reputation as an “excellent salesperson” and acknowledges that her teams were slated to generate half of Kargo’s revenue in 2016 -- approximately $80 million.
Berger filed her original claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May 2016, then filed her arbitration complaint a month later.
Neither Berger nor her lawyers could be reached for comment by press time.
Adweek first reported the existence of the filing, on Friday.