Ramesh Menon, head of the U.S. structured investment group at Citigroup, is suing the bank, claiming it has discriminated against him on racial grounds. He is seeking at least $138m in damages.
Menon, a naturalised U.S. citizen of Indian birth and origin, claims the bank has underpaid him, denied him promotions which went to less qualified white male colleagues, and demoted him when he complained about his treatment.
He wants $38m in compensatory damages and at least $100m in punitive damages. He still works for the bank.
Richard Horowitz, an attorney at Heller Horowitz and Feit, the firm representing Menon, said: "Although Citigroup has preached concern about diversity, the facts speak for themselves. The bank continues to foster a "white men's club" by disproportionately promoting and more highly compensating white males than equally or more qualified women and minorities."
Christina Pretto, a spokeswoman for Citigroup, said: "We believe the lawsuit is without merit and will contest it vigorously. Citigroup is fully committed to fair employment practices, and to providing a respectful and professional workplace free of discrimination."
In his complaint filed with the U.S. district court for the southern district of New York and seen by Financial News, Menon said that from 1997, Citigroup has "systematically and routinely" underpaid him. He said it had passed him over for positions for which he has been and continues to be "eminently qualified" for.
This, the complaint claimed, was due to "intentional discrimination" based on his race and national origin.
Menon added that he has been subject to improper and detrimental restraints on his business conduct through "retaliatory steps taken by Citigroup" in response to complaints he made to the bank's human resources group, senior management and to the U.S. Equal Opportunities Commission.
The complaint said that the alleged ill-treatment occurred despite the fact that from its inception in 1998 through 2004, the revenues generated by his group, part of the equity derivatives business, have increased from $11m in 1998 to $225m in 2004. It added Menon was largely responsible for creating this group.
Citigroup has 20 days to respond to the complaint.