Mizuho Securities Sued Over Alleged Racism, Stereotyping

Mizuho Securities USA underpaid non-white employees based in part on performance reviews “replete with thinly disguised racial stereotyping,” according to a lawsuit filed by four former executives.

The former employees of the investment bank’s power and utilities group claim company executives made racist comments. As an example, they cited a business dinner in Orlando, Florida, attended by three of the four former workers, including Nelson Chang, who is Asian. A white Mizuho managing director “entertained the diners with his impression of an Asian accent by mocking the accent in an exaggerated way,” which “embarrassed and humiliated” Chang, according to the complaint.

Three of the four former executives say they were fired after complaining to higher ups about the discrimination they faced. The fourth said he left on his own when it became clear to him that, because of his black skin, he had no chance of advancement.

Despite performing their jobs with “diligence and skill,” they were hit with performance reviews that were “permeated” with racial tropes, they said. “Thus, for example, Blacks were lacking initiative, i.e., ‘lazy,’ and Asians were ‘good with numbers,’ i.e., not personable in client relations,” they said in the complaint.

Mizuho didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lisa Wright, who joined the firm in 2016, said in the complaint that her supervisor’s criticism was sometimes “utterly ridiculous,” such as “suggesting that Wright, a Black female, was not ‘bonding’ with her young white male peers by not ‘socializing’ with them.”

Jia Peng, who worked in the company’s Chicago office, said she and other executive directors earned a base salary of $250,000. But that her “total reward,” which included annual bonus “was generally 40% to 50% less than that of white directors.

The four said that despite promises of advancement, “each was denied the opportunity to be promoted.”

On its web site, the Mizuho touts its “commitment to diversity in our policies and practices.”

“Mizuho strives to create a work environment of mutual understanding, respect, and inclusiveness that fosters a diversity of ideas,” the company says.

The four sued on the basis of race discrimination and retaliation. They are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The case is Chang v. Mizuho Securities USA LLC, 1:21-cv-03874, in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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