A former employee of Eleven Fifty Consulting has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the now-defunct Carmel firm, but the company’s co-founder, tech entrepreneur Scott Jones, says the claims are without merit.
The plaintiff, Hamilton County resident Ta’Sha Scott, filed the suit Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in Indianapolis.
According to the lawsuit, Scott, who is African-American, was hired as a project manager at Eleven Fifty LLC in July 2016. During her first day on the job, Scott alleges, she was promoted to director of operations. However, she neither received an increase in salary nor was given an opportunity to negotiate a raise, the suit claims.
During a meeting in early August, Scott alleges, Eleven Fifty’s attorney told her that the company was trying to become certified as a minority and women’s business enterprise (MWBE) and asked if she would invest in the firm. Another attorney at the meeting told Scott that if inspectors showed up as part of the certification process, “Scott or the other female, non-Caucasian employee would need to be present and appear to be running the company as an owner,” the suit says.
In September, the suit says, Jones emailed Scott to say he had promoted her to the position of chief operating officer. Scott said she did not want the position because she felt it was being offered because of her race and sex, and only so that Eleven Fifty could “fraudulently obtain an MWBE certification,” the suit says.
Contacted by IBJ on Tuesday, Jones said there is no truth to Scott’s claims that the company hoped to use her to qualify for MWBE certification.
At the time, Jones said, the company was considering filing for MWBE certification because his wife, Vee Lee, was running the company. As both a woman and a minority, Lee would have been the one through whom the company qualified for MWBE certification, Jones said.
Eleven Fifty never ended up filing for MWBE certification, he said.
Jones formed Eleven Fifty Consulting, a software development company, in 2014 in conjunction with Eleven Fifty Academy, a not-for-profit coding bootcamp.
Scott’s suit alleges that she was terminated on Oct. 21 for “'not being a team player,’” and she left without being compensated for 18 days of vacation time she had accrued.
In the suit, Scott claims she was subjected to less favorable terms and conditions of employment due to her gender and race. She asks to be reinstated to her job and awarded compensatory, punitive and statutory damages.
However, Jones said, Eleven Fifty Consulting is no longer in operation and has no funds. Scott worked at the company for three months, but was let go along with other employees because of the company’s “poor business performance,” Jones told IBJ.
Jones said he has not yet seen Scott’s lawsuit, “but I can assure you that she [Scott] was treated fairly during her brief tenure based on her performance and EFC’s operating performance. I cannot see how there would be any possible merit to her case.”
Scott is represented by attorney Andrew Dutkanych III of Biesecker Dutkanych & Macer LLC in Evansville. Dutkanych did not respond to a request for comment from IBJ on Tuesday morning.
Eleven Fifty LLC has not yet filed a legal response to the suit. As of Tuesday, the legal case file did not include information on who will represent the company in the matter.