Nielsen’s Cheryl Grace, senior vice president of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company on Monday, October 26., in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Grace primarily alleges she was not promoted despite her quality performance and exceptional work to move forward, contributing remarkably to the company for 16 years now. Despite being one of the top diversity executives, Grace claims that she was excluded from company conversations on race after the death of George Floyd. She also said that not only does the company often fail to promote senior-level Black leaders, but opinions of Black associates are also often disregarded.
According to the lawsuit, Grace wrote a letter to David Kenny, Nielsen’s CEO and chief diversity officer, to outline the countless occasions of racism and inequity that she personally experienced and that she witnessed happen to her Black colleagues at the company.
“This is the reason African American associates who rely on their paychecks for survival don’t speak up at Nielsen!” Grace’s letter says. “Fear keeps them quiet. Fear of retaliation from their managers. Fear of exclusion. Fear of being labeled. Fear of being blackballed in the industry.”
Grace asserts that as a result of the letter, she faced retaliation and that by the time she had written the letter, she had been asked three times if she wanted to leave the company with a severance package.
According to DiversityInc, the lawsuit is currently underway through legal review and has been assigned to Judge Manish S. Shah. Grace is asking for punitive and compensatory damages including payment and benefits lost as a result of Nielsen’s conduct, as well as for emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.