RedFlex Traffic Systems is once again in the news. This time the Australian red light camera operator is in the middle of an employment discrimination lawsuit in which the United States office of RedFlex is accused of harboring an anti-Australian bias.
RedFlex is based in Mebourne, Australia. It’s U.S. operations are base in Phoenix. RedFlex is one of the largest red light camera operators in the U.S.
The RedFlex legal troubles in the U.S. began in 2010 when the Chicago Tribune began to run a series of articles exposing the relationship between RedFlex, which operated the red light cameras in Chicago, and city officials. This led to investigations into RedFlex and federal criminal charges against some of the company’s top officials soon followed.
A former executive, Aaron M. Rosenberg, accused RedFlex of widespread and ongoing bribery by giving gifts and financial incentives to local officials in ten states to secure new contracts.
RedFlex shook-up its internal ranks by firing a number of officers. In August of 2014 the former CEO of RedFlex, Karen Finley was indicted in connection with the bribery scandal; she was charged with multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery, and one count of conspiracy. She has pleaded not guilty. A Chicago city employee was also indicted and charged with taking bribes from RedFlex.
The same players are now involved in the employment discrimination lawsuit. Catherine Petzel, a salesperson who was fired in 2012, alleged that Finley harbored an anti-Australian bias and Rosenberg a anti-woman bias.
“Mr. Rosenberg’s desire to terminate Ms. Petzel was motivated by gender discrimination. Ms. Finley’s desire to terminate Ms. Petzel was motivated by national origin discrimination,” Petzel argued in her complaint.
“After it became clear that Ms. Petzel’s job performance was unsatisfactory and was not improving, Aaron Rosenberg, Redflex’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Business Development, and I discussed terminating Ms. Petzel’s employment,” Finley told the court. “All such discussions took place at Redflex’s headquarters in Arizona. The company’s decision to terminate Ms. Petzel’s employment was also made at its headquarters in Arizona. At no time during my employment with Redflex did I have any continuous and systematic contacts with Ohio.”
The court wants to hear more from Petzel, who explained how she felt discriminated against by the traffic camera company.
But Petzel’s attorney claimed that Finley question how Petzel’s accent would be “received,” even though Petzel’s accent is moderately light and does not present a language barrier. “Ms. Finley also questioned the propriety of having an Australian in Ms. Petzel’s position, expressing a concern that potential customers might view Redflex as being too Australian.” Petzel also contends that Rosenberg used a “performance improvement plan” to disguise the discriminatory nature of her firing.
RedFlex has denied all the charges.