Raymond James sued for discrimination, published denial

Three former employees of St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial are suing the company, claiming they were paid less, passed over for promotions and denied training and perks because they are women. The lawsuit, which follows an EEOC complaint, also includes claims of sexual harassment and race and age discrimination.

The EEOC did not investigate but gave its blessing to the lawsuit, which now seeks class-action status.

Raymond James made some waves of its own by notifying employees of the lawsuit on the company’s internal web site. The company refuted the EEOC complaint point-by-point, saying “all employment decisions were proper and appropriate,” and that the company expected all charges to be dismissed. The statement instructed employees not to talk to the media about the suit and directed them to take questions to the company’s legal department.

The women’s attorneys called the statement improper and potentially intimidating, and appealed to the court, demanding a retraction. The company later pulled the statement from its web site.

Advice: Responding to a lawsuit is probably not a bad idea. However, telling employees what they can and can’t talk about could get you into hot water with the National Labor Relations Board, whose rules govern protected communication among employees.