BLOOMBERG GENDER DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS DISMISSED « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Court Rules Childbearing is a Life Choice Not Entitled to Special Treatment or Extra Benefit

A New York federal judge has dismissed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) effort to bring a “motherhood”-based class action suit against financial and media services giant Bloomberg L.P..  The judge found the EEOC failed to demonstrate sufficient common factual circumstances among the proposed participants to justify a single class-action suit on behalf of all of them.

The EEOC asserted that Bloomberg L.P. systematically discriminated against mothers and pregnant women by reducing their pay, demoting them or excluding them from important meetings. The suspected discrimination was said to have taken place starting in February 2002, after Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority shareholder of the company, had been elected Mayor of New York, ceasing his day-to-day role at the company. Still, the EEOC alleged that Mr. Bloomberg “is responsible for the creation of the systemic, top-down culture of discrimination.”

However, in an August 17, 2011 ruling, Judge Loretta A. Preska of the United States District Court in Manhattan found that the claim on behalf of 603 women did not provide sufficient statistics and other definite proof that discrimination was an on-going commonly shared problem, relying rather on “anecdotes.”

“At most, the E.E.O.C. has shown some isolated remarks from a few individuals over the course of a nearly six-year period in a company of over 10,000, with over 600 women who took maternity leave,” she wrote. “Relying on a handful of individuals’ statements does not amount to showing a pattern or practice of intentional discrimination.”

Judge Preska concluded the EEOC’s lawsuit amounted to “a judgment that Bloomberg, as a company policy, does not provide its employee mothers with a sufficient work-life balance.”  The judge disagreed that this was enough to establish that the workers could sue this employer in a single class-action (as opposed to each bringing a separate claim).  “The law does not mandate ‘work-life balance.’ It does not require companies to ignore employees’ work-family tradeoffs — and they are tradeoffs — when deciding about employee pay and promotions. It does not require that companies treat pregnant women and mothers better or more leniently than others. All of these things may be desirable, they may make business sense, and they may be ‘forward thinking.’ But they are not required by law.”