KPMG Gender Pay, Promotion and Pregnancy Discrimination Class Action

Case Description

Case Type: Gender Discrimination
Company: KPMG
Kassman, et al., v. KPMG LLP

In June 2011, Class Representative Donna Kassman filed a lawsuit against KPMG to remedy KPMG’s systemic discrimination in pay and promotion, discrimination based on pregnancy, and chronic failure to properly investigate and resolve complaints of discrimination and harassment. In late 2011 and again in 2016, the lawsuit was amended to add Named Plaintiffs from around the country who had experienced discrimination similar to what Ms. Kassman had suffered. The most recent version of the complaint is available here.

Throughout the first half of 2018, Plaintiffs submitted legal arguments and evidence to the Court arguing that it should certify a class of approximately 10,000 women in the Tax and Advisory functions at KPMG alleging pay and promotion claims, and for final certification of the Equal Pay Act collective on behalf of the approximately 1,100 opt-in plaintiffs with claims of being paid less than comparable men. The motion and the reply detail how women were underpaid and underpromoted to a statistically significant degree, and the common problems with KPMG’s pay and promotion policies and practices. It also describes a culture rife with gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.

KPMG presented its own evidence and arguments and, on November 30, 2018, the Court denied the certification of the class and the Equal Pay Act collective. While the Court acknowledged KPMG’s common pay and promotion policies and its gender disparities in pay and promotion, the Court held that the women challenging KPMG’s pay and promotion policies cannot pursue their claims together.

Currently, Plaintiffs are considering next steps.  On December 14, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a Petition to Appeal the Denial of Class Certification under Rule 23(f) with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  Plaintiffs are waiting for a decision from the Court of Appeals about whether to hear the appeal.

Importantly, those who wish to pursue their individual claims must act quickly.  Plaintiffs’ motion to toll the Equal Pay Act statute of limitations until March 30, 2019 was granted, which pauses the clock on the time that individual opt-in plaintiffs have to pursue their EPA claims.  Time limits that the law imposes on members of the potential class, however, are once again running, meaning that members of the potential class hoping to pursue their claims must take individual steps to protect their claims or risk losing them.  Please contact Plaintiffs’ Counsel if you have any questions.

Case History

KPMG, the Big Four Accounting Firm that boasted a global revenue of more than $26 billion in 2017, had attempted unsuccessfully to derail the litigation numerous times throughout the years. For example, on February 7, 2013, Judge Furman of the Southern District of New York handed KPMG a resounding defeat in its attempts to avoid litigation of class-wide claims. When KPMG attempted to characterize the experiences of the Plaintiffs as isolated and insufficient to support class litigation, the Court denied KPMG’s motion and allowed the class claims to move forward. Later, when Plaintiffs asked the Court to send Notice to the thousands of women who, according to Plaintiffs’ evidence, have been systematically underpaid for years, KPMG again vigorously opposed this motion. On July 8, 2014, Judge Schofield of the Southern District of New York handed KPMG yet another defeat, ordering that approximately 9,000 women be given the opportunity to join the Equal Pay Act claims in the case.

The Court granted conditional certification of the Equal Pay Act collective and ordered that notice be mailed to the affected women, and around 1,100 women (current and former employees) joined to challenge KPMG’s unfair compensation.

The Court’s November 30, 2018 Order holds that those 1,100 women can no longer pursue their claims together in the collective.

The case is not over, but plaintiffs who wish to pursue their individual claims must act quickly, because the applicable statute of limitations may be running.

If you have questions about the case against KPMG, you can get more information in the following ways:

Meet Donna Kassman

Case Materials

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David SanfordDavid Sanford
Chairman
Washington, DC

Kate MuetingKate Mueting
DC Partner
Washington, DC

Saba BiredaSaba Bireda
DC Partner
Washington, DC

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