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Tampa elevator company exec says he was fired after raising discrimination concerns

The former vice president of human resources at Oracle Elevator this month sued the company, alleging that he was fired after objecting to discriminatory comments made by two executives. iStockphoto.com
The former vice president of human resources at Oracle Elevator this month sued the company, alleging that he was fired after objecting to discriminatory comments made by two executives. iStockphoto.com
Published Mar. 22, 2019

TAMPA — The former vice president of human resources at Oracle Elevator this month sued the company, alleging that he was fired after objecting to discriminatory comments made by two executives.

Vong Keovongsa contends that Oracle wrongfully terminated him under the Florida Whistleblower Act and has breached its employment contract with him by not paying him six months of base pay, $75,000, based on his annual salary of $150,000, as stipulated in the agreement.

Oracle hired Keovongsa, who previously oversaw human resource operations for 3,500 employees at materials technology company Thyssenkrupp, in July 2017. During his employment, Keovongsa's lawsuit says Oracle CEO Paul Belliveau and board chairman Sean Barrette engage in discriminatory conduct in violation of state and federal law. Specifically, it says Belliveau repeatedly made "discriminatory comments toward women, older employees and persons of color," though it does not give any examples. It says Barrette "repeatedly and consistently directed that older candidates for hire be disregarded, and younger candidates be hired instead."

Keovongsa objected, according to his complaint, telling Barrette that he believed that what he had observed from both men amounted to illegal discriminatory behavior. The suit says he was fired in retaliation on Feb. 14 and that he was initially told that the termination was not for cause, which would have made him eligible for severance pay. Later, it said, he was told he was terminated for cause.

Contacted Thursday, Oracle attorney Richard P. Hermann II of Boca Raton said in an email that "Oracle's policy is that the company does not comment on pending litigation."

Founded in 2004, Oracle used to be based in Torrington, Conn., but it announced a move to Tampa a couple of months after it hired Keovongsa. The company said that the move made sense because Florida was one of the largest markets for its elevator repair, maintenance and modernization services. Oracle also said one of its investors, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, had helped Oracle choose Tampa as its new home.

Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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