Ex-General Counsel of GE Unit Settles Gender Bias Case
Posted Jan 27, 2009 2:09 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The former general counsel of a General Electric subsidiary has settled her employment discrimination case against the company.
The terms of the settlement between GE and Lorene Schaefer are confidential, according to a press release.
Schaefer, the former general counsel of GE Transportation, had alleged in her May 2007 lawsuit that a "very male-dominated culture" at GE discriminated against women executives at all levels, denying them equal pay and promotion. The suit had sought $500 million in damages on behalf of 1,500 female employees but was never certified as a class action.
Schaefer told the ABA Journal that her suit was filed just a few days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter in a pay discrimination case on a statute of limitations ground. The 5-4 ruling held that the time for filing a pay discrimination complaint begins running with the original salary decision and there is not a new violation with each new paycheck.
Since then, legislation was introduced in Congress to reverse the ruling. The bill was expected to pass on a final vote today and be forwarded to the president, according to the Associated Press.
“I’m really proud of the fact that we’re resolving [the suit] at the same time that President Obama has promised to sign into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” Schaefer told the ABA Journal.
Schaefer said that since she filed the suit, she heard from women across the country about issues of fair pay and promotion. “Some would have us believe that female employees go to work and think, ‘How can I trap the company today so I can sue them?’ That’s just not the case,” Schaefer said.
“What women want is simply to be treated fairly and paid fairly, no more, no less.”