HRC lawyers wrote that almost all of the specific allegations of discrimination and bias made by David are false, including the alleged statement by a senior HRC official that David public support for racial justice risked alienating white donors and especially “white gay people”. The HRC also denied that David was initially paid less than his predecessor, or that an HRC co-chair told him he was initially paid less because he was black. and that the organization may not be ready to be led by a black person.
The organization argued that David was fired because his work with Cuomo advisers was a “breach of HRC’s conflict of interest policy and mission”, damaged the group’s “interests, reputation and prospects” and compromised David’s ability to lead the organisation.
“All employment actions taken by HRC with respect to the Applicant’s employment were based solely on legitimate and non-discriminatory reasons, and were in no way based on the Applicant’s race or any other protected characteristic”, HRC lawyers wrote in their court filing.
David, in a statement to the Post, said the response was “another sign that HRC leadership is out of touch with its organizational reality and woefully blind to the systemic inequalities that continue to plague it.”
“At least four former employees in the past month, including me, have highlighted issues of systemic racism within the organization,” he said. “Rather than fix the problem, HRC is once again trying to erase it, but they can’t run away from the evidence that shows their true colors and I can’t wait to uncover it.”
Before joining the HRC as chairman in 2019, David served as counsel for Cuomo, who was accused in an August report by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat, of sexually harassing 11 women, including a state trooper whom the governor had arranged to be put on his detail. Cuomo resigned weeks after the report was released, ending nearly 11 years as state chief executive, and denied behaving inappropriately.
David also offered advice to Cuomo’s aides and shared with the governor’s office personnel files he kept about Boylan after he left his job at Albany.
David argued that he was obligated as a lawyer to share the documents with his former client and that he told Cuomo’s aides at the time that he would did not sign the letter, which described claims about the accuser that he could not personally verify. He said he also suggested changes to make the unpublished document less objectionable.
His involvement with Cuomo provoked a backlash, both among some HRC staff and the wider activist community. After initially supporting David, HRC launched an internal investigation into his work with Cuomo’s office during his time at HRC. They then asked him to resign, then fired him in September when he refused to resign.
David was one of several informal advisers to Cuomo who lost their jobs after the James report. Leaders of Time’s Up, a workplace sexual harassment group, resigned over their organization’s contact with Cuomo staff. Cuomo’s journalist brother Chris was fired from his job as a CNN anchor in December because what the network said were unapproved efforts to help the governor.
HRC admitted to court case on Monday that a white board member was asked to resign during David’s tenure after making “several comments deemed inappropriate”. David previously claimed that this board member told him to talk less about being black after David gave a speech about the importance of standing up for LGBTQ people who aren’t white. David also said the same person put down another black female board member and that person was only fired after David raised the issue.
A person familiar with the legal position of the HRC, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said David only told the organization about his previous interaction with the board member after the ensuing incident with the black board member.
The HRC also told the court that its internal investigation into David was not undertaken at David’s suggestion, as David had previously claimed.
“Because we are in active litigation, we are unable to comment or discuss details related to the lawsuit beyond the public statement released by the HRC in February,” the organization said in a written statement. when asked to comment on Monday’s filing.
David had argued that the fact that his white predecessor had not been punished for past controversies within the organization was evidence that David had been treated differently because he is Black. The HRC responded in its filing by pointing out that a 2015 report into racial tensions within the organization caused one of those controversies when it was leaked to the media. had been commissioned by the organization as part of a self-improvement effort under David’s predecessor.
The HRC also denied David’s claim that his salary in his first two years was “considerably lower than [that of] his predecessor. »
“Claimant’s compensation under his original contract of employment resulted in total compensation greater than that paid to his predecessor in his original contract, and in any event, the differences, if any, in the compensation structure or the agreements between HRC and the plaintiff and his predecessor were justified on factors having nothing to do with race,” the HRC court filing said.
David claimed in his complaint that the same senior executive who he claims raised concerns about David’s alienation ‘White gay men’ once slammed a black staff member for meeting with a black-owned consulting firm without White person present because company employees might underperform if they thought they were work for people of their race.
In its legal response, HRC denied that was true.
“This case concerns a former leader who refuses to take responsibility for the consequences of his own actions which directly contradicted and profoundly undermined the core mission of the organization he was charged with leading,” HRC lawyers wrote in the case.