Morgan Stanley Settles Sex-Bias Suit with $54 Million Out of Court
Faced with charges of sex discrimination in the workplace, Morgan Stanley agreed yesterday to pay a $54 million settlement rather than stand trial. The lawsuit, settled with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), came just minutes before an EEOC lawyer would have switched on a projector and displayed statistical evidence against the firm. Female employees claimed that the company systematically denied them equal pay and promotions, and excluded the women from meeting with clients, often setting up male-only functions at strip clubs and golf games, according to Bloomberg.com.
While Forbes.com notes that the $54 million settlement is merely a pittance for the Wall Street firm (representing just one day’s worth of revenue for Morgan Stanley), the EEOC win is the second biggest sex-bias settlement to date. Twelve million dollars of the settlement money will go to the lead plaintiff, Allison Schieffelin. Within 10 days, Morgan Stanley must contact all women who have worked for the company since 1995 and invite them to come forward and file claims. An estimated 340 female employees may file complaints, and an outside monitor will distribute $40 million of remaining settlement funds accordingly, reports The New York Times. Two million dollars have been reserved for diversity programs and anti-discrimination training to ensure future gender equity and success for women at Morgan Stanley, according to The New York Times.
Judge Richard M. Berman called the settlement “a watershed in safeguarding and promoting the rights of women on Wall Street,” according to The New York Times. Women currently comprise a “shrinking portion” of Wall Street employees, making up thirty-seven percent of the entire Wall Street workforce, down from 43 percent in 1999, according to Bloomberg.com.
Sexism and pay discrepancies extend from Wall Street firms to Middle-America Wal-Mart stores to Pennsylvania Avenue. Recent figures leaked from the White House reveal that women in the Bush administration earn about 78 percent of male employees’ salaries, due to the fact that men occupy 12 out of 17 top pay scale jobs and dominate high-end positions, according to The Washington Post.