A former senior client partner for Korn/Ferry International Inc. is suing the executive-search and consulting firm for allegedly firing her because she is gay.

The lawsuit, filed in March by Marti Smye in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claims that Korn/Ferry breached her employment contract by dismissing her last year and not paying her nearly $4 million she earned in bonuses. The case is set for trial on March 1.

Korn/Ferry's "workplace was permeated with antigay animus," the lawsuit says, describing alleged antigay comments made by top Korn/Ferry executives. As part of the suit, Ms. Smye's attorney filed a declaration by Donna McNicol, senior vice president of human resources for Canadian telecommunications company Telus Corp., who says a Korn/Ferry recruiter told her the search firm could "screen out gay and lesbian candidates" for its clients.

A Korn/Ferry spokeswoman said the charges are "baseless" and are "being vigorously defended."


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