As will be featured on the March 2, 2009 cover of Forbes Magazine, a group of five female former employees of Citigroup, ("Citi") have filed class charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") in Manhattan against Citi alleging that they were laid off in November 2008 as a result of unlawful discrimination, specifically alleging that a glass ceiling exists at Citi and that in the latest round of layoffs, lesser qualified or under-performing male employees were retained at the expense of female employees.
Douglas H. Wigdor, a partner at Thompson Wigdor & Gilly LLP who represents this group of women, declared, "before the President and Congress hand over still more billions of taxpayer dollars to bailout Citi, they should look into our allegations and condition the receipt of further money on Citi setting aside significant funds to compensate those who have been unlawfully terminated."
Mr. Wigdor added "this is a clear case of what I call 'recessionary discrimination,' where Citi is using the economic downturn to eliminate a class of protected employees. In each case, one of my clients was selected for layoff while a less qualified or under-performing male employee was retained. The undeniable statistics belie any attempt by Citi to offer a legitimate justification for its decisions and demonstrate that the subjective criteria employed by Citi's managers had an adverse impact on women at Citi across the board."
The five women were all employed in Citi's Public Finance Department, within the Municipal Securities Division, and were notified on November 21, 2008 that their employment was being terminated as part of a larger reduction in force. According to their EEOC charges, a culture of gender discrimination exists at Citi where a significant majority of the top officer positions in the Public Finance Department were filled by men. Of the only five female Directors in the Public Finance Department, four were laid off, leaving only one female Director in the Public Finance Department while retaining 41 male Directors. Three of these four eliminated female Directors have joined in this action.
"The old boys' network is unfortunately alive and well at Citi. It is hard to imagine something happening like this today, but I stand united with my four colleagues in seeing this process through to its ultimate conclusion," said Amy Bartoletti, a former Director in the Housing Group, and one of the charging parties in this class action. "By basing its decisions on personal relationships rather than performance, Citi has effectively eliminated a whole generation of future Managing Directors within the Public Finance Department," commented Lisa Conley, a former Director in the Health Care Group and another charging party in this action.
The group has filed their charges of discrimination on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated women at Citi affected by the layoffs.