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.
WOMEN RENEW CHARGES OF SEX
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST SMITH BARNEY
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
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
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:
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
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 www.lieffcabraser.com.
& 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 www.findjustice.com.
& 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 www.outtengolden.com.
NCWO/Women on Wall Street Project
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 Womens Policy Research,
the League of Women Voters, the National Association for
Female Executives, National Committee on Pay Equity, and
the National Womens Law Center. Collectively, NCWO
represents 10 million women nationwide. For more information
about NCWOs Women on Wall Street Project, please call
Amochaev, et al. v. Smith Barney
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
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,
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.
Kelly Dermody/Stephen Cassidy (Lieff Cabraser): 415/956-1000
Adam Klein (Outten & Golden): 212/245-1000
Cyrus Mehri (Mehri & Skalet): 202/822-5100