By Maeve Allsup | Bloomberg

Female employees at Pacific Investment Management Co. face discrimination in pay and promotions, and suffer unequal treatment based on sex, race, and disability from the company’s predominantly white male leadership, a suit filed Wednesday in California state court says.

Sue Collazo and Lisa Anthony, employees at the firm’s Newport Beach office allege a company culture that marginalizes, demeans, and undervalues women, and women of color, in which male leadership overtly favors men, regardless of qualifications. Both women say they were discriminated against based on their gender, and were ultimately demoted after reporting instances of bias and harassment to human resources.

Pimco spokesman Michael Reid said in a statement that “the claims in the filing have no merit, which Pimco will demonstrate in court.”

White male professionals are disproportionately overrepresented at every level of the investment firm’s management and leadership structure, and formal policies and widespread practices prevent female employees and those with disabilities from receiving appropriate credit for their contributions, the complaint alleges.

According to the filing, only 20% of Pimco’s 77 managing directors are female, and only 20% of its 213 executive vice presidents are female.

Once hired, female employees are underpaid and under-promoted, while opportunities, credits, and authorities are funneled to male employees, the complaint alleges.

‘Fraternity culture’

The suit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, describes a “fraternity culture” in which senior male employees mentor young male employees, giving them preferential assignments, introducing them to the firm’s power brokers, and grooming them for leadership. At the firm’s Newport Beach office, that culture is strengthened by leadership’s encouragement of fraternization at strip clubs, golf outings, and poker nights, at the disadvantage of female employees, the complaint says.

Collazo and Anthony allege violations of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act including discrimination and harassment, and retaliation, among other causes of action, and seek injunctive relief reinstating them to the positions from which they were demoted, as well as back pay. The suit follows prior litigation alleging Pimco passed over employees for promotions due to age, race, gender, and pregnancy.

Causes of action: Fair Employment and Housing Act; intentional misrepresentation; California Equal Pay Act; unfair competition;

Relief: Compensatory and general damages including back pay; injunctive relief; prejudgment interest; punitive damages; attorneys’ fees; costs.

Attorneys: Abrolat Law PC represents the employees.

The case is Collazo v. Pacific Inv. Mgmt. Co., Cal. Super. Ct., No. 30-2020-01170559, 11/18/20.

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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