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.
Employees Sue Smith Barney for Sex Discrimination
Class Action Lawsuit in Federal Court Charges Violations
of Federal and State Civil Rights Laws
Francisco, California (March 31, 2005) -- Four female financial
consultants filed a national class action lawsuit today
in federal court in San Francisco, charging sex discrimination
at Smith Barney, the retail brokerage arm of Citigroup,
which is the nation's largest financial institution.
lawsuit, Fassbender Amochaev v. Citigroup Global Markets,
Inc., d/b/a Smith Barney, Case No. 051-298 (PJH) (N.D.
Cal.), charges that Smith Barney has engaged in a pattern
and practice of gender discrimination against its female
financial consultants in account distribution, sales support,
compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment
throughout the company.
women allege violations of federal and state laws, including
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California
Fair Employment and Housing Act. They are represented by
attorneys from Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP;
Mehri & Skalet, PLLC; and Outten & Golden LLP.
Renee Fassbender Amochaev, a former Smith Barney financial
consultant from Smith Barney's Santa Rosa, California
office who has been in the financial services industry since
1999, stated, "Despite my demonstrated strong performance
and knowledge of the clients involved, Smith Barney denied
me the opportunity to manage millions of dollars worth of
assets that it instead gave to men with no greater qualifications
action has been brought to remedy a culture of hostility
toward equal opportunity at Smith Barney," said plaintiffs'
attorney Kelly M. Dermody of Lieff Cabraser Heimann &
Bernstein, LLP of San Francisco, California. "While
men at Smith Barney are handed business opportunities that
put money in their pockets, women are left to fend for themselves
and are essentially forced to compete with one hand tied
behind their back."
Street still hasnt gotten the message that women are
not second-class citizens," said plaintiffs attorney
Adam T. Klein of Outten & Golden LLP of New York, New
York. "As long as investment banks and brokerage firms
continue to discriminate against their female employees,
courageous employees like the plaintiffs in this case will
continue to fight back."
years Wall Street firms have expected women to work twice
as hard for half of the reward. Today, four women are standing
up to turn the tide at Smith Barney and the ripple effect
will be felt throughout the industry," said plaintiffs
attorney Cyrus Mehri of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, of Washington,
complaint charges that, among other things, Smith Barney
discriminates in the account distribution process, routinely
assigning smaller and less valuable accounts to female brokers,
including those who outperform their male counterparts;
provides women with less sales and administrative support
than it provides to men; and maintains a corporate culture
hostile to female professionals.
Kathryn Varner, a former Financial Consultant and Vice-President
with Smith Barney stated, "As a financial consultant
who has successfully worked in the industry for over twenty-five
years, I stayed focused on my clients and tried to ignore
the blatant discrimination at Smith Barney. But when I finally
discussed gender discrimination problems at Smith Barney
with corporate officials, I was quickly forced out of the
company. I am still working in the industry and have come
forward to make sure this does not happen to other women
at Smith Barney."
Judy Weil is a current Financial Consultant with Smith Barney's
Walnut Creek office who has been a successful Financial
Consultant for over 21 years. She also alleges in the complaint
that she was subject to discrimination and denied compensation
based on her gender.
Deborah Orlando, a former Financial Consultant and Vice-President
with Smith Barney's Santa Rosa office, added, "I
have worked in the industry without any performance issues
or client complaints for almost twenty years. Despite
my demonstrated reliability, I was repeatedly passed over
for lucrative business leads and compensation opportunities
that went to male coworkers."
Barney is a global financial firm that provides brokerage
and investment banking management services to corporations,
governments and individuals around the world. Smith Barney
is the nations second largest retail brokerage firm
and a leader in the U.S. securities industry. Smith Barney
employs approximately 12,000 Financial Consultants in over
500 offices. In addition, Smith Barney services over 7.1
million client accounts, representing approximately $1 trillion
in client assets.
April 2004, the National Council of Women's Organizations
(NCWO) in partnership with plaintiffs counsel Mehri
& Skalet, PLLC, announced the Women on Wall Street Project
in Washington, DC. This lawsuit is representative of a number
of gender investigations underway involving Wall Street
companies. At the announcement of the Project last year,
Dr. Martha Burk, Chair of NCWO, made public a letter she
sent to Citibanks Sanford Weill (CEO of Smith Barneys
parent company) and other CEOs, in response to complaints
she had received about gender discrimination at financial
sector companies. "Unfortunately, the suspicions that
led to the Women on Wall Street Project are supported by
the allegations in the complaint filed today. The National
Council of Women's Organizations salutes these women for
having the courage to come forward," said Dr. Burk.
interested in the lawsuit may provide information by visiting www.genderlawsuitagainstsmithbarney.com,
or calling 1-800-642-8330 to leave a message for plaintiffs
counsel. Members of the media can also obtain a copy of
the complaint and this press release by contacting Amy Yu at 415-956-1000.
the Law Firms
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