Female GE General Counsel Files Gender Bias Suit

June 1, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A high-ranking female attorney at General Electric Co. filed a lawsuit against her employer Thursday, alleging that men were given preferential treatment over women in appointments to high-paying legal positions.

The lawsuit was filed by Lorene Schaefer in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut and names 13 GE officers and directors, including Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt.

Schaefer, who is also seeking class-action status to represent about 1,500 to 1,700 female GE employees and, also hopes to change GE’s allegedly discriminatory pay and promotions practices and policies.

Schaefer, who worked for the company for about 13 years, said the lawsuit was provoked when she learned she was going to be demoted from her job as general counsel for the company’s transportation unit. She said she was told by executives that she would be replaced by a “big-time general counsel.”

“Ms. Schaefer’s career with GE clearly illustrates the opportunities that the company provides to women, as she was given opportunities to move to progressively larger roles,” GE spokesman Gary Sheffer told the Associated Press.

According to the suit, Schaefer said her inability to climb the ranks at GE because of the gender bias that existed there impeded her ability make a higher pay.

The case isthe case is Schaefer v. General Electric, Case 3:07-cv-00858-PCD.