Ex-Oracle salesman claims complaining about wage discrimination got him fired

An Oracle sales director allegedly said a lower salary offer was "good money for an Indian," according to a new lawsuit

A former Oracle sales manager is suing the vendor, alleging he was fired shortly after complaining of discriminatory actions by his superior and other company officials.

Ian Spandow was a high-performing sales manager at Oracle in Europe and later California, according to his lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. After coming aboard in 2005, he trained more than 1,000 new hires and gave skills coaching to hundreds of others, the suit states.

Spandow was subsequently promoted in January 2008 to the position of coaching manager, and after continued success was promoted to work as a sales manager at Oracle's U.S. headquarters in Redwood Shores, according to the suit.

Despite performing well in his new role, Spandow, who is Irish, "experienced discriminatory and retaliatory conduct based on his national origin and after his complaint of various improper practices, including the company's discriminatory pay practices of employees based on their national origin," the suit states.

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In September 2012, Spandow asked for permission to transfer an Oracle employee working in India to California. Spandow wanted to give the employee, who had a good track record, "a compensation level that was equivalent to Caucasian employees hired by Oracle for the same position." But Spandow's manager denied the request and told Spandow to offer the worker a "substantially lower" amount of money, according to the suit.

"I can't in good conscience, even mention $50K/$50 to him," Spandow said of the employee in an email to his supervisor, Ryan Bambling, that was cited in the lawsuit. "It would be nothing short of discriminating against him based on his ethnicity/country of origin. How or what do I have to do/write to get a reasonable (60+) offer to him?'

This prompted a "stern response" and warning to Spandow, the suit claims.

Spandow subsequently raised his concerns with his sales director, Keith Trudeau, who said the lower salary offer would be "good money for an Indian," according to the suit.

An Oracle human resources manager, Melissa Bogers, later insisted to Spandow that the lower offer was fair, the suit adds.

Spandow was "summarily terminated" without warning on Dec. 5, 2012, just weeks after the dispute over the salary offer, according to the suit.

Spandow has suffered "humiliation, embarrassment, mental anguish and severe emotional and physical distress," according to the suit, which also alleges that Oracle has engaged in a pattern of paying Indian employees less than whites.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, a declaration that Oracle's conduct was unlawful, and "all injunctive relief necessary to bring [Oracle] into compliance" with related laws, according to the suit.

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined to comment on Spandow's allegations Monday.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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