Women Employees Sue Smith Barney for Sex Discrimination; National Class Action Lawsuit in Federal Court Charges Violations of Federal and State Civil Rights Laws

SAN FRANCISCO--()--March 31, 2005--Four female financial consultants filed a national class action lawsuit today in federal court in San Francisco, charging sex discrimination at Smith Barney, the retail brokerage arm of Citigroup, which is the nation's largest financial institution.

The lawsuit, Fassbender Amochaev v. Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., d/b/a Smith Barney, Case No. C051-298 (PJH) (N.D. Cal.), charges that Smith Barney has engaged in a pattern and practice of gender discrimination against its female financial consultants in account distribution, sales support, compensation, and other terms and conditions of employment throughout the company.

The women allege violations of federal and state laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. They are represented by attorneys from Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP; Mehri & Skalet, PLLC; and Outten & Golden LLP.

Plaintiff Renee Fassbender Amochaev, a former Smith Barney financial consultant from Smith Barney's Santa Rosa, California office who has been in the financial services industry since 1999, stated, "Despite my demonstrated strong performance and knowledge of the clients involved, Smith Barney denied me the opportunity to manage millions of dollars worth of assets that it instead gave to men with no greater qualifications than me."

"This action has been brought to remedy a culture of hostility toward equal opportunity at Smith Barney," said plaintiffs' attorney Kelly M. Dermody of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP of San Francisco, California. "While men at Smith Barney are handed business opportunities that put money in their pockets, women are left to fend for themselves and are essentially forced to compete with one hand tied behind their back."

"Wall Street still hasn't gotten the message that women are not second-class citizens," said plaintiffs' attorney Adam T. Klein of Outten & Golden LLP of New York, New York. "As long as investment banks and brokerage firms continue to discriminate against their female employees, courageous employees like the plaintiffs in this case will continue to fight back."

"For years Wall Street firms have expected women to work twice as hard for half of the reward. Today, four women are standing up to turn the tide at Smith Barney and the ripple effect will be felt throughout the industry," said plaintiffs' attorney Cyrus Mehri of Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, of Washington, DC.

The complaint charges that, among other things, Smith Barney discriminates in the account distribution process, routinely assigning smaller and less valuable accounts to female brokers, including those who outperform their male counterparts; provides women with less sales and administrative support than it provides to men; and maintains a corporate culture hostile to female professionals.

Plaintiff Kathryn Varner, a former Financial Consultant and Vice-President with Smith Barney stated, "As a financial consultant who has successfully worked in the industry for over twenty-five years, I stayed focused on my clients and tried to ignore the blatant discrimination at Smith Barney. But when I finally discussed gender discrimination problems at Smith Barney with corporate officials, I was quickly forced out of the company. I am still working in the industry and have come forward to make sure this does not happen to other women at Smith Barney."

Plaintiff Judy Weil is a current Financial Consultant with Smith Barney's Walnut Creek office who has been a successful Financial Consultant for over 21 years. She also alleges in the complaint that she was subject to discrimination and denied compensation based on her gender.

Plaintiff Deborah Orlando, a former Financial Consultant and Vice-President with Smith Barney's Santa Rosa office, added, "I have worked in the industry without any performance issues or client complaints for almost twenty years. Despite my demonstrated reliability, I was repeatedly passed over for lucrative business leads and compensation opportunities that went to male coworkers."

Smith Barney is a global financial firm that provides brokerage and investment banking management services to corporations, governments and individuals around the world. Smith Barney is the nation's second largest retail brokerage firm and a leader in the U.S. securities industry. Smith Barney employs approximately 12,000 Financial Consultants in over 500 offices. In addition, Smith Barney services over 7.1 million client accounts, representing approximately $1 trillion in client assets.

People interested in the lawsuit may provide information by visiting: www.genderlawsuitagainstsmithbarney.com, or calling 1-800-642-8330 to leave a message for plaintiffs' counsel. Members of the media can also obtain a copy of the complaint and this press release by contacting Monica Barsetti at 415-956-1000.

In April 2004, the National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO) in partnership with plaintiffs' counsel Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, announced the Women on Wall Street Project in Washington, DC. This lawsuit is representative of a number of gender investigations underway involving Wall Street companies. At the announcement of the Project last year, Dr. Martha Burk, Chair of NCWO, made public a letter she sent to Citibank's Sanford Weill (CEO of Smith Barney's parent company) and other CEOs, in response to complaints she had received about gender discrimination at financial sector companies. "Unfortunately, the suspicions that led to the Women on Wall Street Project are supported by the allegations in the complaint filed today. The National Council of Women's Organizations salutes these women for having the courage to come forward," said Dr. Burk.

Dr. Burk and Mr. Mehri will host at a teleconference to discuss the Women on Wall Street Project at 3:30 p.m. E.S.T. The number is (866) 409-4300. When prompted, enter '03108' and press '#'.

People interested in the lawsuit may provide information by visiting: www.genderlawsuitagainstsmithbarney.com, or calling 1-800-642-8330 to leave a message for plaintiffs' counsel. Members of the media can also obtain a copy of the complaint and this press release by contacting Monica Barsetti at 415-956-1000.


         Fassbender Amochaev et al. v. Smith Barney Fact Sheet


Plaintiffs:   Ms. Renee Fassbender Amochaev (approximately 6 years in
              industry as Financial Consultant), Ms. Deborah Orlando
              (almost 20 years in industry as Financial Consultant),
              Ms. Kathryn Varner (approximately 26 years in industry
              as Financial Consultant), and Ms. Judy Weil (over 20
              years in industry as Financial Consultant) have brought
              suit on behalf of themselves and others similarly
              situated in this class action.  All four women work or
              worked at Smith Barney until very recently.  All of the
              former employee plaintiffs are still working in the
              industry as Financial Consultants.
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Defendant:    Citigroup Global Markets, Inc., d/b/a Smith Barney.
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Court:        The lawsuit was filed on March 31, 2005, in the United
              States District Court for the Northern District of
              California  (federal court in San Francisco,
              California).
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Claims        Violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII")
 Alleged:     and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
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Key           Defendant has engaged in a continuing policy and
 Allegations: practice of gender discrimination in business
              opportunities, compensation, and other terms and
              conditions of employment, and of retaliation in
              response to complaints of discrimination.
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Relief Sought: Plaintiffs seek an end to these discriminatory
               practices, injunctive and declaratory relief, an award
               of backpay and front pay, and compensatory and punitive
               damages.
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Contact       The Lieff, Cabraser attorneys handling this case are
 Attorneys:   Kelly M. Dermody, Bill Lann Lee, James M. Finberg, and
              Elizabeth Alexander.  The Mehri & Skalet attorneys
              handling this case are Cyrus Mehri, Lisa Bornstein,
              Sandi Farrell, and Anna Pohl.  The Outten & Golden
              attorneys handling this case are Adam T. Klein and
              Piper Hoffman.
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People interested in the lawsuit may provide information by visiting: www.genderlawsuitagainstsmithbarney.com, or calling 1-800-642-8330 to leave a message for plaintiffs' counsel. Members of the media can also obtain a copy of the complaint and this press release by contacting Monica Barsetti at 415-956-1000.

About the Law Firms:

Plaintiffs are being represented by three law firms: the national class action firm Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, of San Francisco, California, New York, New York, Washington, DC, Nashville, Tennessee, and Beverly Hills, California; the plaintiffs' civil rights firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC of Washington, DC; and the plaintiffs' employment firm Outten & Golden LLP of New York, New York and Stamford, Connecticut.

Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, is a 60-plus attorney firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, Washington, DC, Nashville, and Beverly Hills. Lieff, Cabraser has represented plaintiffs in a wide variety of class action litigation, including employment discrimination and civil rights, wage and hour, and pension benefits litigation. Since 1992, the firm has litigated over 20 separate cases in which jury verdicts or settlements of $100 million or more were reached, including more than 10 cases valued at $1 billion or more each. More information on the firm can be found at www.lieffcabraser.com.

Mehri & Skalet, PLLC specializes in representing workers and consumers in class actions around the country. Lawyers at M&S settled two of the largest race discrimination employment class actions in history: Texaco Inc. which settled for $176 million in 1997 and The Coca-Cola Company which settled for $192 million in 2001. The firm also served as a catalyst for unprecedented reforms in hiring practices adopted by the National Football League in recent years. More information about the firm can be found at www.findjustice.com.

Outten & Golden LLP represents plaintiffs in a variety of employment law matters, including discrimination cases, wage and hour violations, and contract negotiations. The firm handles class actions, such as the gender discrimination lawsuit against Metlife that settled in 2003, as well as individual litigation. Outten & Golden represented Allison Schieffelin in the sex discrimination suit prosecuted with the EEOC against Morgan Stanley that recently resulted in a $54 million settlement, and has handled gender discrimination claims against every major Wall Street firm. More information on the firm can be found at www.outtengolden.com.

About NCWO/Women on Wall Street Project:

The National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO) has over two hundred member organizations including the American Association of University Women, Business & Professional Women/USA, the Institute for Women's Policy Research, the League of Women Voters, the National Association for Female Executives, National Committee on Pay Equity, and the National Women's Law Center. Collectively, NCWO represents 10 million women nationwide. For more information about NCWO's Women on Wall Street Project, please call (202) 293-4505.

Contacts

Lieff, Cabraser
Kelly Dermody/Stephen Cassidy, 415-956-1000
or
Outten & Golden
Adam Klein, 212-245-1000
or
Mehri & Skalet
Cyrus Mehri, 202-822-5100

Contacts

Lieff, Cabraser
Kelly Dermody/Stephen Cassidy, 415-956-1000
or
Outten & Golden
Adam Klein, 212-245-1000
or
Mehri & Skalet
Cyrus Mehri, 202-822-5100