More than 1,100 women who are current and former KPMG professionals are seeking class status in U.S. District Court Court for their various allegations of gender discrimination.
The motion brings together women employed in KPMG’s advisory and tax areas dating back to 2008 who say the firm “engages in a pattern or practice of intentional discrimination.” The women are current or former associates, senior associates, managers, senior managers, directors, and managing directors who say they have been harmed by pay or promotion disparities. KPMG is contesting the claims.
With additional allegations even of sexual assault, the motion cites more than 140 internal complaints to the firm’s human resources office as well as surveys and exit interviews that suggest “a culture rife with gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.” The motion says the firm’s policies are implemented in a culture of gender stereotyping and hostility toward women, which produces disparities in compensation and promotion.
The case originates with a claim filed in 2011 by Donna Kassman, which is focused on “changing the firm’s discriminatory pay and promotion policies and practices, as well as remedying its system failure to properly investigate and resolve pervasive complaints of gender discrimination and harassment,” said one of the two law firms pursuing the case.
The motion for class certification demonstrates “pervasive gender discrimination against women at KPMG, where women are underpaid and underpromoted,” said Kate Mueting, a partner at law firm Sanford Heisler Sharp and lead attorney for KPMG’s female plaintiffs. “KPMG knew of gender pay disparities as early as 2009 and, nonetheless, expert analysis shows gender-based pay disparities still exist nationwide.”
A KPMG spokesman said the firm would not comment on pending litigation, “other than to note the plaintiffs’ claims are without merit, and KPMG will continue to vigorously defend itself.” KPMG says it is committed to the advancement of women through the organization and “is recognized as a leader for its strong record of supporting women in the workplace,” the spokesman said. “Diversity and inclusion have long been priorities for the firm and are woven into our culture and everything we do.”
The spokesman also said the firm continues to believe that the allegations are not representative of the “overwhelmingly vast majority of women’s experiences” at the firm “Instead, plaintiffs’ counsel refer to the complaints lodged while ignoring the robust investigations of those complaints and sanctions addressing any misbehavior,” he said.