Fortress Executive With Lou Gehrig Disease Settles Firing Suit

  • Michael Johnson claimed he was fired because of his disability
  • ‘It’s just not working out,’ Johnson’s boss said before firing

A former Fortress Investment Group LLC executive who said he was fired days after undergoing treatment for a degenerative disease settled his lawsuit against the company.

Michael Johnson, a former managing director in the asset manager’s credit team, claimed he was dismissed a year ago "without any warning," four working days after he returned to work following treatment for motor neurone disease, according to the lawsuit. In his settlement, he agreed that his firing didn’t have anything to do with his disability, Fortress said in an e-mail.

Johnson’s boss, Christopher Linkas, said while giving evidence that he mistook the early signs of the disease for a soccer injury. Johnson suffers with motor neurone disease -- known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig disease in the U.S.

“Michael Johnson acknowledges that, having sat through the proceedings and listened to the testimony of his former colleagues, he is comfortable that the decision made by Fortress and Christopher Linkas concerning Mr. Johnson’s employment was not taken on the basis of his disability or any other discriminatory factor," a Fortress lawyer said by e-mail. "On terms which are confidential between the parties, Mr. Johnson has decided to withdraw his claim.”

Fortress, a New York-listed alternative-asset manager with $70.6 billion under management, is the latest financial institution taken to the London employment tribunals. The specialist courts have been the venue in recent months for disputes filed by about at least a dozen currency-exchange traders fired amid a benchmark manipulation scandal.

A spokeswoman for Johnson declined to immediately comment.

Compensation at London’s employment tribunals is capped at about 80,000 pounds ($105,000) unless claimants can prove they were victims of discrimination, or were fired for whistle-blowing.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.