Nick Williams, a White male, worked at American Express for over eight years, where he was an Iowa-based manager of business development until he was suddenly let go in March 2021. He says he turned down a six-figure settlement offer because he refused to sign paperwork barring him from speaking out against the credit card juggernaut because “what’s happening in woke corporate America” is not acceptable.
“It’s taken me quite a bit of time to decide and really process and research what is happening inside American Express. But there comes a point in time where you can’t take anymore. It’s like, enough is enough. And at this point in my life and my career, I feel like this is my cross to bear, and it’s time to tell my story,” Williams told Fox News Digital.
Williams worked in the Global Commercial Services division, where he regularly interacted with clients to market corporate card products in what he called an extremely profitable wing of American Express.
“When American Express terminated myself and my superiors, three White males, based off of what it called violating company policies and really fabricating a story, it realized that I was really the catalyst of what came next for American Express,” Williams said.
Williams said he was terminated after he told a Black, female small business owner that she couldn’t obtain a corporate Amex card without the necessary documents, such as articles of incorporation and three months of utility bills. The incident occurred during the coronavirus pandemic, and they had never met face-to-face, so he had “no idea” the business was owned by a minority. The business owner grew agitated, and Williams says she mistreated his colleague – who happened to be Black, too – so he informed the business owner she was “cut off” because her behavior wouldn’t be tolerated.
Williams’ now-former colleague who was allegedly mistreated by the client declined comment when contacted by Fox News Digital.
Williams said he was let go shortly afterwards. He believes American Express was fearful of a lawsuit and simply wanted to offer services to as many minority-owned businesses as possible as part of its ongoing diversity efforts. He also explained that American Express had begun awarding raises based on diversity, instead of performance, around the time of the company’s diversity push and provided Fox News Digital with an internal document indicating that “diversity representation” was a metric considered for incentive awards.
“This is not OK, this is America, and we are given a raise and opportunities based on how hard we work, blood, sweat and tears,” Williams said.
An American Express spokesperson flatly denied Williams’ claim about his termination.
“Mr. Williams is spinning a false narrative of possible reasons–other than his own misconduct–for his involuntary termination from American Express. We are committed to complying with all laws and regulations, and do not tolerate misconduct. If we identify potential misconduct, we thoroughly investigate and will take appropriate actions, including and up to termination,” the American Express spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
Williams has insisted that other now-former employees have suffered the same fate as he did, but American Express denies that, too.
“Same thing, same concept. Just a different story fabricated,” Williams said.
An American Express spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the company has “not laid off employees for any so-called diversity push” and “employment decisions are based on, among other things, business needs and performance.”
Williams said that most of the terminated staffers are offered cushy severance packages to stay quiet about the inner workings of American Express.
“American Express is going to own them,” he said. “I was the only one out of my colleagues that didn’t sign the paperwork and I turned down a six-figure settlement from American Express to tell them and the world that what’s happening in woke corporate America, what’s happening at American Express right now is not OK. And I’m going to stand out and be the voice where others may not be in a position to do that.”
Williams believes American Express is essentially eliminating White employees in an attempt to be more diverse. Last year, the Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo began a series of investigative reporting on critical race theory at America’s most prominent companies.
“One of the companies that actually was the one of the worst offenders was American Express,” Rufo previously told Fox News Digital. “American Express is teaching its employees that the country was fundamentally racist, that capitalism was fundamentally oppressive and that their White employees were guilty of White privilege and internalized White supremacy.”
Color Us United president Kenny Xu, the author of “An Inconvenient Minority,” and Rufo joined forces to help prevent what they call the infiltration of woke ideology into America’s companies by putting “countervailing pressure” on executives who make the decisions. Xu and Rufo have since launched the “UnAmerican Express” campaign urging investors of the credit card company to distance themselves from Amex until “woke policies” cease to exist.
Williams said that when he was still working for American Express he saw the issues occur firsthand, when the company put an emphasis on diversity.
“That meant getting rid of high-paid White males and making sure that African-Americans were hired in replacement of those White males,” Williams said.
He admits that his beliefs about his termination are “speculative,” but noted a review of the company’s sales practices by the Department of Justice and other government agencies coincided with his exit.
A few weeks before he was dismissed, the Wall Street Journal published a report headlined, “American Express Acknowledges DOJ Review of Card Sales,” that indicated “investigators were looking into whether the company used aggressive and misleading sales tactics to sell cards to business owners and whether customers were harmed” as a result. Fox News is not aware of any facts suggesting that the investigation involves American Express employment practices or diversity initiatives.
“With so many regulators coming in looking at American Express for deceptive sales practices, what does Amex do? It knocks out two birds with one stone,” Williams said, “‘Well, we need to get rid of White employees and we need to hire Black employees. We also need to scapegoat these people and avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, so let’s figure out something that they did wrong, or that we can say they did wrong, and let’s throw them to the wolves and let’s avoid these fines and move on with life.’”
Fox News Digital was provided with a collection of documents proving Williams’ employment at American Express, including tax and pay documents, internal memos, letters of commendation from executives and various company awards. Fox News Digital is not aware of any specific facts that support Williams’ claims about why he was terminated.
Williams saw Fox News Digital’s interview with Xu and Rufo about the “UnAmerican Express” campaign and quickly believed he could have been a victim of what they were attempting to put a spotlight on.
“It was really freeing for me to see the interview with Rufo and Kenny because, after you’re sitting here on an island for almost a year-and-a-half telling your story as a White male who is 39… you start to self-analyze and pick everything that you stand for and say, ‘Am I wrong? Am I crazy? What’s wrong with my line of thinking? I’m not protected,'” he said. “Then you see Rufo and Kenny come in with my exact story, and they had never spoken to me, and that is vindication. Like, no, I’m in this.”
According to internal documents reviewed by Rufo, American Express executives created an internal “Anti-Racism Initiative,” subjecting employees to a training program based on CRT tenets, including intersectionality, which categorizes people as “oppressors” or “oppressed” based on racial, gender, sexual and other identities.
In the trainings, the outside consulting firm Paradigm urged Amex employees to construct their own intersectional identities, mapping their “race, sexual orientation, body type, religion, disability status, age, gender identity [and] citizenship” on an official company worksheet. Employees could then determine whether they have “privilege” or are members of a “marginalized group.” Whites, males, heterosexuals, Christians, able-bodied people and citizens would presumably count as “privileged.”
Williams said similar trainings occurred while he was still employed at the company.
“As a matter of fact, the worst training I sat through, that I can remember, I was told – as a father of a multicultural family, diverse children of my own – I was told that I can’t say, ‘I don’t see color,’ because that is a microaggression, and I’m not allowed to do that,” Williams said. “I was told that in my trainings when I’m part of a team meeting or a district meeting or a national meeting or a regional meeting, and I have an African-American colleague present in that meeting, me as a White privileged male, I need to be quiet and not respond until the African Americans have spoken. That was the CRT trainings I was participating [in].”
Williams said the trainings came from “the top down” and were often kicked off by American Express CEO Steve Squeri or key executives Anré Williams and Gunther Bright. American Express said it’s “absolutely false” that top executives led CRT-related trainings.
Williams is now taking legal action against the credit card juggernaut for his termination. He said he has paid over $ 100,000 in legal fees and hasn’t been able to make any headway as his cash is drying up.
“American Express, no matter what protected class you’re in, you’re going to settle a dispute through arbitration. And so it doesn’t want the world to know what it did wrong. It wants to just pay people off and make it go away,” he said. “So, to this point, American Express hasn’t wanted to play ball, and I haven’t even been able to get to a point where I can get to arbitration. I’m just now over a year because their strategy is to milk me out. And they have.”
American Express counsel indicated “a party may not initiate the arbitration process until it has exhausted all required administrative remedies,” in a letter obtained by Fox News Digital.
Williams said he can’t spend more money to take on Amex because his four children would suffer, but he hopes to see the process through.
“I don’t want American Express to win because they wore me out,” he said.
“I get a little bit emotional because, you know, you do feel like you are on an island, and you feel like you’re all alone in the story. And, you know, to take $ 100,000 of your money away from your family, and you know that it’s not ever coming back,” Williams said as he began to tear up.
“You’re putting that in because you’re trying to fight for what’s right. You’re trying to teach your children. You don’t let people do this. You don’t let companies treat you this way,” he continued. “You go head-to-head with the 500-pound gorilla, and you think you’re at the end of your road, and then an organization like Color US United comes around and opens up its network, its donor base, to help you.”
Williams hopes his efforts bear fruit in a wider effort against what he calls “woke America .”
“I hope that us linking arms is like – the Williams versus American Express, like the lawsuit your kids and your children’s children read about,” he said. “This is what stopped woke America. This is what stopped woke corporate… it’s not OK and whoever thought it was, shame on you.”
An American Express spokesperson told Fox News Digital that Williams is “making salacious accusations in hopes of driving news coverage” because a state agency in Iowa dismissed his claim, and he is now “trying to bring the same claims through another avenue.”
“Mr. Williams’ claims have no merit and we will vigorously defend against the allegations,” the spokesperson said.
American Express has maintained it did nothing wrong and objects to the “UnAmerican Express” campaign.
“American Express has a longstanding commitment to living our company values, which include fostering a diverse and inclusive culture where all colleagues can thrive. Advancement, hiring, and compensation within our company is based solely on individual qualifications, business, and leadership performance. Any claim to the contrary is wrong, and we do not provide any incentive for behaviors that discriminate against or favor any group of employees,” a spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
“Our diversity and inclusion programs are not based on any specific theory or philosophy, and we have never taught our colleagues that capitalism is racist. We price our products without regard to demographic information, including race and ethnicity, as legally required,” the spokesperson continued. “We remain committed to upholding our values and ensuring that colleagues of all backgrounds and perspectives are respected, valued, and welcomed at American Express.”
Fox Business’ Tyler O’Neil contributed to this report.