KPMG Gender-Discrimination Suit Can Proceed, Judge Rules

A lawsuit claiming KPMG LLP discriminated against women professionals may go forward, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan today denied most of KPMG’s requests that he dismiss claims filed by five women who are former employees of the accounting firm. The women, who sued in 2011, seek to represent a class of current and former female professional employees of the firm, which is the U.S. member firm of Zurich-based KPMG International.

The plaintiffs claim KPMG denied women equal pay and opportunities for promotion. KPMG also discriminated against pregnant employees, according to the complaint. The proposed class includes female associates, senior associates, managers, senior managers and managing directors.

Furman today denied KPMG’s request that he dismiss the women’s class-wide allegations. He did dismiss class claims under New York State and New York City law with respect to potential class members who don’t live there. He also threw out some of the women’s individual claims.

Furman’s ruling doesn’t determine whether the five plaintiffs will be permitted to represent the nationwide class in their suit. KPMG will have the chance to present arguments against class certification later, Furman said.

“KPMG is recognized as a leader for its strong commitment to supporting women in the workplace,” firm spokesman Manuel Goncalves said in a statement today. “Diversity and inclusion have long been priorities for the firm, and they are woven into our culture and everything we do. We continue to believe this lawsuit is entirely without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves.”

The case is Kassman v. KPMG LLP, 11-CV-3743, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).