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Accenture boss Julie Sweet accused of ‘shaming’ executive with ADHD

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The global boss of consulting firm Accenture has been accused of publicly “shaming” an ousted senior executive, who has alleged that the firm discriminated against him because of a neurological disability.

Peter Lacy, Accenture’s former head of sustainability and a member of its global management committee, claimed that he was “belittled” and “shamed” by Julie Sweet, Accenture’s chair and chief executive, in the months before he was laid off, according to documents filed at a London employment tribunal.

The legal case highlights how large employers are having to deal with an increasing number of adults being diagnosed as neurodiverse in recent years and the accommodations they are required to make as a result.

Lacy, who was one of Accenture’s top global executives, is bringing claims of disability discrimination against the firm relating to a neurological issue, namely ADHD, compounded by post-traumatic stress and depression. He is also bringing an unfair dismissal claim against Accenture after he was made redundant as part of the firm’s plans last year to cut roughly 19,000 positions globally.

The claim alleges that Lacy was “frozen out of meetings, belittled (sometimes publicly) by senior staff such as Ms Sweet . . . and shamed”.

New York-listed Accenture — which employs 740,000 people in 120 countries — denies all of the claims. Sweet denies treating Lacy adversely.

Lacy alleged that his impairment was “apparent to anyone who worked with him, including the senior leadership team”, according to the tribunal documents. Accenture said Lacy’s condition was not apparent.

In the claim, Lacy said the symptoms of his condition were exacerbated by unspecified stresses that caused him to struggle at work in the 12 to 18 months leading up to his dismissal.

At an event in 2022, Lacy alleged that Sweet “publicly and bluntly cut [Lacy] off in front of around 1,000 [Accenture] staff”.

At a separate meeting that year, he alleged Sweet stood up and cut him off saying in front of the entire global management committee: ‘Peter you need to stop now.’”

Lacy also claimed that during a call in February 2023 with Sweet and Bhaskar Ghosh, Accenture’s chief strategy officer, the former “engaged in a 15-minute tirade against [Lacy] in respect of a piece of work . . . for no apparent reason”.

“The negative symptoms of ADHD were therefore further exacerbated in the period leading up to his dismissal by the actions of [Accenture],” the claim read.

Sweet denied ever publicly “shaming” Lacy and said she “politely” asked him to stop his presentation at a global management committee meeting in May 2022, according to Accenture’s defence filing. Regarding the February 2023 call, Sweet said Lacy was unable to answer her “simple” query, adding that she was “measured and polite . . . even if frustrated and direct in her feedback”.

The claim represents another headache for Sweet who last month announced that the firm had cut its annual revenue forecast amid an “uncertain macro environment”.

A preliminary hearing on Thursday rejected Lacy’s attempt to strike out Accenture’s unfair dismissal defence.

The employment tribunal case will be heard at a trial in London on 31 March 2025.

Accenture said it: “strenuously denies all allegations made by Peter Lacy. The redundancy dismissal of Peter Lacy took place in the context of the publicly disclosed global business optimisation actions that impacted 19,000 of our workforce.

“We are pleased that the tribunal agreed with Accenture that this is a case that should be decided at a full trial. We have no further comment beyond what has been said in our court documents and in today’s tribunal proceedings.”

Via

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