$40M Morgan Stanley Sex Discrimination Claims Fund to be Distributed

August 16, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A $40 million sex discrimination claim fund from Morgan Stanley will be distributed to 67 current and former female employees from the company's Institutional Equity Division (IED).

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced in a Web statement that the fund would begin payouts. The fund was set up as part of the $54-million landmark settlement last year (See Morgan Stanley Agrees to $54M Sex Discrimination Settlement ).

The EEOC’s lawsuit alleged that Morgan Stanley had engaged in a pattern of sex discrimination since 1995 against Allison Schieffelin and a class of other women. The allegations included claims that Morgan Stanley regularly excluded women from work-related outings, paid women less than male peers, and denied them warranted promotions.

According to the federal agency, the case settled on July 12, 2005, after a jury had been selected and just prior to opening arguments. The $54-million monetary award was structured so that Allison Schieffelin – who initiated the EEOC’s investigation by filing a charge of discrimination in 1998 – was paid $12 million; $2 million was to be spent by Morgan Stanley on new diversity initiatives in the division; and $40 million was earmarked for distribution to eligible claimants via a claims process to be administered by former federal Judge Abner Mikva as a court-appointed special master. The average award is about $606,000.

The three-year consent decree also provides for increased anti-discrimination training for associates and managers in IED and Morgan Stanley’s hiring of an outside monitor to assess the company’s compliance and field employee complaints.

“We are hopeful that this suit has changed discriminatory practices common to Wall Street,” Elizabeth Grossman, the EEOC’s New York District Acting Regional Attorney, said in the Web statement. “It should signal the industry that no matter how well-regarded a financial institution may be, there is no safe harbor for employment discrimination.”