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EMC accused of stifling discrimination claims while battling class-action

Denies alleged sexist ways

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EMC ignored internal discrimination claims from female employees whilst fighting a class action lawsuit filed by other female employees.

That is the claim made by ex-EMC VP Paul Goetz in papers filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It strikes a chord with the recent ousting of VMware CEO Diane Greene, EMC's highest-ranked female executive.

Goetz claims he was demoted and placed in a hostile environment after forwarding discrimination complaints from female staff in his consulting part of EMC up the management chain in 2006. EMC is accusing him of downloading confidential documents and denies his claims vigorously. The company says this information could be used to its competitive advantage by Goetz' current employer, Savvis.

The Portland Business Journal reports that EMC has filed a suit in Suffolk Superior Court, Mass, against Goetz, alleging he copied confidential EMC files to his PC's hard drive and has not returned them. Goetz's lawyer, Valerie Samuels, a partner with Posternak Blankstein & Lund in Boston, Mass, said: “He went to them with these complaints and they ignored him and then retaliated against him. Having seen their position paper (response to the MCAD), I’m convinced they are just looking to drive him into the ground with legal fees.”

The background to this involves a class action against EMC filed by ex-EMC sales reps Tami Remien and Debra Fletcherf who worked in EMC's Chicago office in 2004. They say male employees received preferential treatment and, eventually, they lost their jobs. EMC has said emphatically that its company policy is not to tolerate discrimination against women at all. EMC CEO Joe Tucci has stated that female EMC salespeople actually earned more on average than men in the period between 2001 and 2004, and that female representation at the higher echelons of the firm has more than doubled in recent years.

Goetz is saying that his discrimination message was stifled because it would have provided support for the women in the class-action case. His filed papers say that EMC’s HR executive and legal counsel did not deal with the claims he forwarded. He also alleges he was directed to destroy documents alleging EMC-employed Accenture contract staff had been physically threatened by EMC staff. Goetz's complaint states: “EMC willfully failed to investigate these complaints because it feared that a comprehensive investigation might impair the company’s defense of the pending class action.”

The complaint goes on to claim that Howard Elias, EMC's EVP for global services, and James Dowson, EMC's CTO for global services and a named executive in the discrimination complaint by females, responded to his discrimination claim forwarding by saying he overstated his business unit's consulting services by 90 per cent and that he had developed unfair compensation practices. Goetz subsequently became VP global services sales which, he alleges, was a demotion.

In November 2007 he left the company taking data on which is his discrimination claims were based.

Goetz' attorney says: "My understanding is that EMC has been saying that they have cleaned up their act. However, what happened to Mr. Goetz has shown that it hasn’t."

A private EMC response has been filed with MCAD referring to Goetz' claims.

Copyright © 2008, Blocks & Files.com

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