Former Wafra Real Estate Head Sues Over Age Discrimination

(Bloomberg) -- The former head of real estate at Wafra Investment Advisory Group Inc. sued the Kuwait-backed firm and its Chief Executive Officer Fawaz Al-Mubaraki claiming he was illegally fired because of his age.

Francis "Frank" Lively, 64, was ousted in the spring of 2018 after he was accused of sexual harassment and discrimination by Sabine Kraut, a vice president at the firm, according to a complaint filed in New York with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in June. Kraut sued Wafra and Lively in Manhattan federal court in November.

Lively, who lives in New York, claims he was "terminated without the benefit of an investigation, process, or meeting with his supervisor and human resources." Lively had no reason to believe his interactions with Kraut were "anything but welcomed" and that his subordinate "purposely pursued the friendship and business-mentoring relationship," according to the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court Thursday. He said the harassment claim was manufactured to justify his termination.

Al-Mubaraki said Lively was "too old" and shared his intention to replace him with younger counterparts, according to the complaint.

Lively’s firing is "another episode in a continuing saga of unlawful discrimination and retaliation directed against elder employees," his lawyer wrote in the complaint. Lively sued for back pay, bonuses, unreimbursed expenses, carried interest, and unspecified punitive damages.

Last spring, Wafra conducted “a thorough investigation and took decisive action to ensure a safe and welcoming work environment for all of our employees,” Andrew Wilson, a Wafra spokesman, said in an email. “The claims in this lawsuit have no merit.”

Representatives for Al-Mubaraki didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Kraut’s attorney declined to comment.

Wafra, which has more than $23 billion of assets under management, is an affiliate of Kuwait’s Public Institution for Social Security.

The case is Lively v. Wafra Investment Advisory Group Inc., 19-cv-03257, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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