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3 Former Fujitsu Systems Employees File Bias Suit

March 29, 1990|CHRIS KRAUL | SAN DIEGO COUNTY BUSINESS EDITOR

Three former Fujitsu Systems of America employees have filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against their former employer and its Japanese parent, alleging that they were discriminated against on the basis of race and national origin.

The suit seeks up to $70 million in compensatory and punitive damages and was filed in San Diego County Superior Court by Frank Ensign, 59, the company's former chief financial officer; Terence Turnbull, 53, the former vice president of marketing, and Esther White, 64, who was Ensign's executive secretary.

All three of the plaintiffs are Caucasians who say they lost their jobs because they were not Japanese, their attorney, Nicholas Boylan, said Wednesday.

The three were among 45 Fujitsu Systems employees who were laid off in April, 1989, in what a company source described as a reorganization. The job cuts brought the total Fujitsu Systems of America payroll down to 655 employees, of whom 378 work in San Diego.

A subsidiary of Japan-based computer giant Fujitsu Ltd. with worldwide sales off $18 billion, Fujitsu Systems of America makes point of sale terminals, hand-held accounting systems and automated bank teller machines.

Boylan said his three clients were in effect subsequently replaced by Japanese employees of Fujitsu and thus were the victims of "pernicious and malicious race, age and national origin discrimination."

A Fujitsu Systems of America official who asked not to be identified said the suit was without merit, but added that the company had not yet had a chance to review it.

"(Discrimination) would be hard for them to substantiate with the new reorganization and new job responsibilities," the official said.

Boylan said Ensign and Turnbull were both recruited by Fujitsu from other companies and that both were earning salaries in excess of $150,000 at the time of the layoff.

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