Class-Action Threat

Smith Barney is facing a new round of sex-discrimination suits. A quartet of financial consultants from California has filed a national class-action lawsuit against the firm in a San Francisco federal court. The suit alleges systemic sexual discrimination in account distribution, sales support, compensation and other areas. Smith Barney says the allegations are without merit. If approved for class-action

Smith Barney is facing a new round of sex-discrimination suits.

A quartet of financial consultants from California has filed a national class-action lawsuit against the firm in a San Francisco federal court. The suit alleges systemic sexual discrimination in account distribution, sales support, compensation and other areas. Smith Barney says the allegations are without merit.

If approved for class-action status, the suit — called Fassbender Amochaev v. Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., d/b/a Smith Barney Case No. 051-298 (PJH) (ND Cal.) — could be opened to thousands of current and former employees of Smith Barney's parent, Citigroup.

Smith Barney paid out roughly $100 million in 1998 to settle a class action brought against it in 1996. The case featured disturbing details of male-advisor behavior in a Long Island branch that was home to the infamous “boom-boom room.”

As part of its settlement, the firm promised to improve working conditions for female employees through the formation of diversity groups, through the hiring of more women and by updating firm policies regarding account distribution and opportunities for advancement.

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