In a textbook illustration of the perils of downsizing, a group of female executives has filed suit against beleaguered banking giant Citigroup, charging the bank’s layoffs hit women executives harder than men.
That, attorney Douglas Wigdor told Forbes.com, is “recessionary discrimination.”
Wigdor filed suit with the EEOC on behalf of five female executives who claim Citigroup axed them while retaining less-qualified men. According to the suit, 45% of top executives laid off from the bank’s public finance department were women, although the department was only 12% female.
Additionally, the suit charges a wider pattern of discrimination, claiming that 72% of the most recent 260,000 layoffs in the financial sector were women, even though women made up only 64% of the workforce.
Note: Statistics like these may seem persuasive at first glance, but they could have been cherry-picked by the plaintiffs’ attorney. Employers must be prepared to offer statistics of their own when challenged. Beyond numbers, employers must show they developed objective criteria to make job cuts without regard to race, gender or other protected class membership.