Recent 'Discrimination'

Dell Gender Discrimination Suit

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Dell Inc., the Texas-based multinational technology company, is facing two gender and age discrimination lawsuits filed by former executives. Four female human resources executives filed a class action lawsuit on October 29 in San Francisco, California, claiming that Dell laid them all off unfairly. In the last year, Dell has cut almost 9,000 jobs from its global workforce of 80,000. The women are seeking $500 million dollars in damages.

Steven L. Wittels, founding partner of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP, who is serving as the class counsel for the case, said, “At Dell, it is an understatement to say that women face a glass ceiling — Dell’s glass ceiling is made of concrete.” The plaintiffs claim that they were passed over for promotions and raises despite getting good performance reviews and therefore feel they were systematically discriminated against. One of the former executives, Jan Chapman, said that she was repeatedly passed over for promotions that went to younger, less qualified men.

It is believed that 80% of the executives at Dell, the second largest computer maker, are male. Dell spokesmen refused to comment, but its website says that 32% of its U.S.-based vice presidents are female and people of color. Another plaintiff, Bethany Riches, said her supervisor told her that her ascent at Dell was “breaking into arguably one of the toughest old boy networks in Dell.” A third plaintiff, Mildred Chapman, who is 59 years old, said that Dell not only unfairly targeted women, but also employees over the age of 40 during its recent layoffs.

A second lawsuit was filed in the same week in Austin, Texas by Jill Hubley. Hubley, who is seeking class-action status for her lawsuit, was a senior strategist in human resources and she too is claiming gender discrimination.

David Frink, a spokesman for Dell, said, “We believe the claims of this suit are without merit.” He went on to say “Dell is an equal opportunity company. Dell does not tolerate discrimination in any aspect of employment and we’ll vigorously defend any claims that we are not acting in accordance with the law or our policies.”

Suits like are subject to a time limit by federal law. Recently, the Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have removed the time limits on such lawsuits.