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Discrimination lawsuit against global financial firm gets bigger

The global financial, tax and money-management advisory firm KPMG justifiably wants to be known for the stellar results it crafts for diverse individual and institutional clients across the world.

Not for this.

“This” is a high-profile and protracted lawsuit, which just got appreciably bigger. Employee-linked litigation that has ensnared the iconic company since 2011 suddenly took a dramatic turn last week. Plaintiffs filed a motion in federal court seeking class certification for more than1,100 current and former KPMG female employees alleging broad-based discriminatory claims against the firm.

The so-called “Big 4” global auditing firm has tried long and hard to dampen the adverse press and liability risks linked with what has unquestionably become a scandal of high magnitude. Company spokespersons routinely portray KPMG as an optimal place to work for women employees generally and rising female stars particularly. The company’s CEO is a female, as are multiple members of its board.

That is pure whitewash, say critics, who spotlight KPMG’s work culture as a decidedly unfriendly place for thousands of women workers. A recent national media report on the class-action filing notes that last week’s motion “alleges rampant sexual harassment at the firm and even sexual assault.”

One plaintiffs’ advocate states that KPMG has consistently failed to acknowledge and reasonably address what has been an avalanche of complaints lodged over many years. She says that the company “is really discouraging women from raising complaints of sexual discrimination and harassment.”

The case duly slogs on, with the class certification motion now inserting a new and notable wrinkle. We will keep readers of our Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah legal blog timely apprised of material updates that occur in the matter.

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