KPMG Faces Gender Bias Suit

June 2, 2011 ( - A former female senior manager at KPMG has filed a proposed class action lawsuit accusing the accounting firm of discriminating against its female employees in pay, promotions and pregnancy leave, Reuters reports.

The lawsuit seeks $350 million in lost pay and benefits as well as other compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of thousands of current and former female managers at the company. The suit accuses the firm of fostering a hostile work environment where women are underpaid and seldom promoted to leadership positions.  

According to Reuters, the suit alleges that after a “stellar” early career at KPMG, Donna Kassman was in line for promotion to managing director when a “troika of men … conspired to derail her career advancement.” Male employees expressed gender hostility with complaints that Kassman was “too direct” and “unapproachable,” the complaint says.  

Kassman claims the company cut her salary by $20,000 without any business justification when she took maternity leave. The suit alleges that working mothers at KPMG who opt for a flexible schedule are forced to accept reduced pay while still shouldering full-time responsibilities.  

While women constitute nearly half of all employees at the company, they make up only 18% of all KPMG partners, according to the complaint.  

KPMG did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.  

The case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York is Kassman v. KPMG LLP, 11-cv-3743.