Scales of Justice
On March 31, 2005, four female financial consultants filed a national class action lawsuit against Smith Barney, the retail brokerage arm of Citigroup, charging that the brokerage house discriminates against women in violation of federal and state civil rights and labor laws.



San Francisco -- Five female financial advisors filed an amended class action lawsuit today in federal court in the Northern District of California, charging sex discrimination at Smith Barney, the retail brokerage arm of Citigroup, which is the nation's largest financial institution. Today's filing amends a class action complaint filed in March of last year by adding additional plaintiffs from Southern California and Florida, and amplifies the allegations in the original class action complaint.
"Today, two more women, from two more Smith Barney branches, have come forward to join the class action gender discrimination lawsuit against the company. Their stories confirm the allegations of the complaint that female financial advisors are not treated fairly and are denied compensation at Smith Barney branches from coast to coast," said Kelly Dermody of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein in San Francisco, California, one of the firms representing the plaintiffs.
Adam Klein, of Outten & Golden, LLP in New York City, another of the plaintiffs' attorneys explained, "These courageous women have come forward to hold Smith Barney accountable for treating female brokers like second-class citizens. We are long past the day when 100% effort means 70% pay for women in the workplace."
The original plaintiffs, Renee Fassbender-Amochaev, Deborah Orlando and Kathryn N. Varner, and two new plaintiffs, Ivy So and Lisa Strange Weatherby, claim they were discriminated against with respect to their compensation at Smith Barney. Specifically, the women allege that Smith Barney:
  • Systemically discriminates against women in allocating business opportunities
  • Discriminates in the account distribution process, routinely assigning smaller and less valuable accounts to female brokers, including those who outperform their male counterparts, than to male brokers.
  • Fails to provide women with the same level of sales support, administrative support, and other support as it provides to men.
  • Maintains a corporate culture hostile to female professionals.
Cyrus Mehri of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC in Washington, DC, who also represents the plaintiffs, said "Smith Barney's corporate practices foster a good old boy culture, where men receive a disproportionate share of business opportunities. By bringing this case, these women will ultimately be a catalyst for systemic change."
Since the original complaint was filed, the plaintiffs have had several important victories in the case.
Most recently, the plaintiffs were successful in forcing Smith Barney to turn over many documents that may help prove their case, including documents that Smith Barney sought to withhold from a prior gender discrimination case against Smith Barney, Martens v. Smith Barney, Inc., which settled in 1998. Specifically, on October 20, 2006, Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero ordered Smith Barney to produce transcripts and expert reports from the Martens case, as well as some of the claims filed in that case by female brokers -- a huge victory for the plaintiffs and the class. Plaintiffs' counsel believes these documents will demonstrate a history and culture of inequality toward women at Smith Barney that persists today; assist the plaintiffs in understanding Smith Barney's current policies and procedures; and educate the plaintiffs about the types of policies and practices that led to past gender-related complaints, and the procedures Smith Barney implemented, or failed to implement, to address such complaints.
The plaintiffs successfully resisted efforts by Smith Barney to transfer the case to a judge in New York City that retained jurisdiction over a prior case filed against Smith Barney. The plaintiffs' victory on this motion ensures the case will stay in San Francisco, California, in the court where it was originally filed.
Further information on the case
The plaintiffs are represented by Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP in San Francisco and Nashville, Mehri & Skalet, PLLC in Washington, DC, and Outten & Golden, LLP in New York. More information about each firm can be found on their websites:

Lieff Cabraser Heimman & Bernstein, LLP:
Mehri & Skalet, PLLC:
Outten & Golden, LLP:

More information about the lawsuit Amochaev et al. v. Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., d/b/a/ Smith Barney can be found at
About the Law Firms
Plaintiffs are being represented by three law firms: the national class action firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP of San Francisco, New York and Nashville; the plaintiffs' civil rights firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC of Washington, DC; and the plaintiffs' employment firm Outten & Golden LLP of New York, New York and Stamford, Connecticut.
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is a fifty-plus attorney firm with offices in San Francisco, New York and Nashville. Lieff Cabraser has represented plaintiffs in a wide variety of class action litigation, including employment discrimination and civil rights, wage and hour, and pension benefits litigation. Since 1992, the firm has litigated over 20 separate cases in which jury verdicts or settlements of $100 million or more were reached, including more than 10 cases valued at $1 billion or more each. More information on the firm can be found at
Mehri & Skalet, PLLC specializes in representing workers and consumers in class actions around the country. Lawyers at M&S settled two of the largest race discrimination employment class actions in history: Texaco Inc. which settled for $176 million in 1997 and The Coca-Cola Company which settled for $192 million in 2001. The firm also served as a catalyst for unprecedented reforms in hiring practices adopted by the National Football League in recent years. More information about the firm can be found at
Outten & Golden LLP represents plaintiffs in a variety of employment law matters, including discrimination cases, wage and hour violations, and contract negotiations. The firm handles class actions, such as the gender discrimination lawsuit against Metlife that settled in 2003, as well as individual litigation. Outten & Golden represented Allison Schieffelin in the sex discrimination suit prosecuted with the EEOC against Morgan Stanley that recently resulted in a $54 million settlement, and has handled gender discrimination claims against every major Wall Street firm. More information on the firm can be found at
About NCWO/Women on Wall Street Project
The National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO) has over two hundred member organizations including the American Association of University Women, Business & Professional Women/USA, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the League of Women Voters, the National Association for Female Executives, National Committee on Pay Equity, and the National Women’s Law Center. Collectively, NCWO represents 10 million women nationwide. For more information about NCWO’s Women on Wall Street Project, please call (202) 293-4505.

Fassbender Amochaev, et al. v. Smith Barney Fact Sheet
Plaintiffs: Ms. Renee Fassbender Amochaev (approximately 6 years in industry as Financial Consultant), Ms. Deborah Orlando (almost 20 years in industry as Financial Consultant), Ms. Kathryn Varner (approximately 26 years in industry as Financial Consultant), and Ms. Judy Weil (over 20 years in industry as Financial Consultant) have brought suit on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated in this class action. All four women work or worked at Smith Barney until very recently. All of the former employee plaintiffs are still working in the industry as Financial Consultants.

Defendant: Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., d/b/a Smith Barney.

Court: The lawsuit was filed on March 31, 2005, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (federal court in San Francisco, California).
Claims Alleged: Violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Key Allegations: Defendant has engaged in a continuing policy and practice of gender discrimination in business opportunities, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment, and of retaliation in response to complaints of discrimination.

Relief Sought: Plaintiffs seek an end to these discriminatory practices, injunctive and declaratory relief, an award of backpay and front pay, and compensatory and punitive damages.

Contact Attorneys: The Lieff Cabraser attorneys handling this case are Kelly M. Dermody, Bill Lann Lee, James M. Finberg, and Elizabeth Alexander. The Mehri & Skalet attorneys handling this case are Cyrus Mehri, Lisa Bornstein, Sandi Farrell, and Anna Pohl. The Outten & Golden attorneys handling this case are Adam T. Klein and Piper Hoffman.

Press Contacts:

Kelly Dermody/Stephen Cassidy (Lieff Cabraser): 415/956-1000
Adam Klein (Outten & Golden): 212/245-1000
Cyrus Mehri (Mehri & Skalet): 202/822-5100