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Lawsuit claims sex-discrimination, bias at EMC

Flag raised over strip club bonding

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A sex-discrimination lawsuit by two former female EMC employees alleges "locker-room" antics within the firm's sales team in Chicago, detailing company-paid visits to strip clubs, demeaning sexual remarks, and a general failing to hire and promote women.

The charges, publicized yesterday by The Wall Street Journal, were filed in a Federal Court in Illinois on November 2004 by two former saleswomen, Tami Remien and Debra Fletcher. The publication said the lawsuit now seeks class-action status as 12 other EMC saleswomen have filed sex-discrimination cases. A hearing is scheduled for Monday in Federal Court in Chicago to determine its status.

The WSJ article alleges that over a series of interviews, 17 former employees described a frat-boy atmosphere at EMC, which included company outings to strip clubs, retaliation to women who complained about poor treatment, and in three cases, male managers unfairly taking away accounts from saleswomen and giving them to men. In one instance, Remien claims she was denied a lucrative Motorola account because she wouldn't "smoke, drink, swear, hunt, fish and tolerate strip clubs."

In an open letter published on EMC's website today, CEO Joseph Tucci vehemently denied the allegations cited in the WSJ article.

"EMC has long been committed to maintaining a workplace free of discrimination and harassment, with significant opportunities for every employee to succeed and grow. We have carefully developed and regularly communicate our policies, training, diversity awareness and sexual harassment education programs."

Much to our delight the response also included a bit of unintentional hilarity. The emphasis is ours.

"These allegations largely focus on events claimed to have taken place up to a decade ago, and we believe they have no legal basis. More importantly, they bear no resemblance to the work environment and broad opportunities that have long existed for EMC employees around the world."

*ahem*

According to the filing, Fletcher alleges shortly after being hired she was given the responsibilities of a district manager and global account manager, but continued to be compensated as an account representative. The filing continues to allege that during out-of-town business meetings, her drunken co-workers left offensive and harassing voicemail messages with sexual innuendos and comments.

You can get a full copy of the complaint here.

Tucci disputes the allegations, saying EMC believes they have no legal basis. He added that women are consistently among the top sales earners at EMC, and during the four years covered by the case, female EMC sales reps averaged more compensation than their male counterparts. EMC is fighting the class-action classification, saying the circumstances involved in each of the cases are different, and should be handled separately. ®

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