As a senior executive of French-owned BNP Paribas Bank, one of the largest banks in the world, Jean-Marc Orlando held a position on Wall Street with which few could compete. Living in affluent Scarsdale in Westchester with his wife, a physician, and three daughters, the family was living the American Dream.
That is, until one day he suddenly found himself unemployed, dismissed after complaining about a training video he’d found offensive. Fortunately, after three years in court, a judge agreed that Jean-Marc had been subjected to a hostile work environment, and awarded him an undisclosed settlement.
It all began in July of 2011, when Jean-Marc was in Amsterdam to attend an off-site mandatory training seminar for his bank’s employees. As he was sitting in the conference room, he found himself watching a subtitled film that portrayed Hitler as the CEO of Deutsche Bank, one of BNP Paribas Bank’s competitors, and the Nazi soldiers around him as Deutsche Bank executives. The video showed Hitler in a bloodcurdling fit of rage, screaming and cursing at his underlings upon hearing the news that BNP Paribas had gained an edge in the foreign exchange market.
As a Jew, Jean-Marc was hurt to the core. Despite the fact that that particular film clip had been parodied numerous times by others (it was adapted from the 2004 film Downfall), he found it unconscionable that he was being forced to watch it. As a high-ranking employee seated among over 100 other senior-level executives, he couldn’t simply get up and walk out. All he could do was remain frozen in his seat until the bitter end.