An ex-Goldman Sachs employee who was fired from his job after it was reported that he purchased $534 worth of Donald Trump hats has plans to sue the Wall Street bank, The Daily Caller has learned.
Luke Thorburn was placed on paid leave last month after The New York Times reported his merchandise purchase, which was listed as a campaign donation. The big bank, which has close ties to Democrat Hillary Clinton, terminated him on April 1.
Thorburn was the only Goldman Sachs employee found to have contributed in any way to the Trump campaign. That’s in stark contrast to the dozens of Goldman Sachs employees who have contributed to Clinton and Trump’s Republican opponents. The bank’s employees had given $94,000 to Clinton’s campaign and $199,000 to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as of last month.
Thorburn has hired Tony Buzbee of the Houston-based Buzbee Law Firm to handle his discrimination case, the former banker told TheDC. Buzbee led the legal team that helped clear former Texas Gov. Rick Perry earlier this year of public corruption indictments handed down by a county grand jury in 2014.
Buzbee alleges that Goldman Sachs trampled Thorburn’s First Amendment and religious rights by firing him over the Trump merchandise.
Thorburn was working for Goldman Sachs’ investment management division — which managed investments for the firm’s executives — when The New York Times reported in late February that he purchased $534 worth of “Make America Great Again” hats from the Trump campaign.
It was soon discovered that Thorburn, who was born in Australia, was affiliated with a website selling hats with the slogan “Make Christianity Great Again.”
According to a follow-up report from The New York Times, while Goldman Sachs employees are allowed to start side businesses with management approval, the firm claimed that Thorburn made inconsistent statements about the hat purchase. He was put on paid leave and then fired on April 1. (RELATED: Goldman Sachs Puts Its Only Trump Donor On Administrative Leave)
According to a press release from the Buzbee Law Firm:
The purchase of the hats, considered to be a political donation, was approved by Goldman management, but once the New York Times reported that Thorburn was the only Goldman Sachs employee of roughly 35,000 to have made a donation to Trump, Goldman’s management put Thorburn on leave.
According to Buzbee, though Thorburn is a Christian, the website selling the hats was not his and he does not receive compensation from the business. He says he placed the website domain and trademark in his name at the request of his girlfriend, who is a model based in New York.
Thorburn and his girlfriend explained the matter to Goldman Sachs management, but he was fired anyway, according to the Buzbee press release.
“Goldman Sachs’s decision to terminate Mr. Thorburn because of his donations to and support of Mr. Trump stands in stark contrast to the amounts donated to other candidates by Goldman Sachs employees; Mr. Thorburn’s donation is less than one percent of the amounts donated to Secretary Clinton and Sen. Rubio,” reads the press release from Buzbee.
“As a result of this firing, Mr. Thorburn has retained counsel, and intends to sue,” the statement continues.
Reached by phone, Thorburn said he believes that the suit will be filed by the end of this week. But he referred specific questions to his attorneys. They were not immediately available for comment.
Thorburn, who said that he was under a gag order while at Goldman Sachs, maintains that he did nothing wrong “and should not have been fired because of news coverage.”
“I only bought some hats as a novelty. Although I certainly admire Mr. Trump, I am an Australian citizen and cannot vote for him,” he said.
“Goldman Sachs thinks it controls the press, and can stifle Mr. Thorburn’s 1st Amendment rights or his religious freedoms. We will see about that,” Buzbee said in his statement.
Reached for comment, a Goldman Sachs dismissed Thorburn’s claims.
“The notion that his departure was related to his political views is ridiculous, and his lawyer’s claims are entirely without merit,” spokesman Andrew Williams told TheDC. “It would have been handled the same way if he’d been selling used cars on a web site.”