Complaints Allege Gender Bias at EMC

A sex-discrimination lawsuit by Tami Remien and Debra Fletcher, two former female employees of EMC Corp., describes a men's locker-room atmosphere at the data storage vendor's sales offices, alleging women were systematically denied equal pay and forced to accompany men on company-paid strip club visits. Although the suit was filed in federal court in Chicago on June 2004, a hearing has just been scheduled next Monday in a bid to include all women who worked in sales at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC, the largest provider of data storage systems for corporate clients, from 2001 to 2004.

More than 40 women have alleged sex-discrimination by EMC in lawsuits, affidavits or complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said plaintiffs' attorney Linda D. Friedman. The 33,000-employee company, on the other hand, contends the claims are baseless. "They bear no resemblance to the true culture of EMC," said Mark Frederickson, a spokesman for EMC. "We have a diverse, inclusive company, with thousands of successful women all over the world. Women are among our highest-paid sales people." Friedman said class-action certification would empower EMC's female sales workers to collectively press cases against a company that she says required new sales hires to sign agreements to resolve any employment disputes through confidential arbitration rather than through the courts.

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