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GE Accused of Gender Discrimination

A lawsuit filed last week accuses General Electric (GE) of discriminating against its female employees. Lorene Schaefer, a high-ranking legal employee in the Transportation Division, says that the company’s promotion and pay practices discriminate against its female attorneys. Her class action suit includes 1,500 female employees, who would each receive around $300,000 in damages if the case is successful.

GE allegedly told Schaefer that she was “not big enough” for her job and subjected her to what Schaefer calls a demotion, according to BusinessWeek. According to a release from the office of Schaefer’s counsel, Sanford, Wittels & Heisler, LLP, she was also excluded from important meetings and poker games with senior executives. “I have suffered from discrimination, but I am not alone,” Schaefer said in a statement. “These aren’t incidental acts of discrimination, and they are continuing in nature, not aberrations or rare occurrences.”

GE spokesperson Gary Sheffer told BusinessWeek that “it’s clear that more women are in senior roles than ever before.” But women’s progress has not been substantial in the upper levels. While the numbers of female officers and female senior executives at GE have increased around 5 percent since 2001, women still make up only 15 percent of the top 400 senior executives, BusinessWeek reports.

Sources:

Sanford, Wittels & Heisler, LLP release 5/31/07; Business Week 6/31/07

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