Legal Briefing: A Week of Sex Discrimination Suits -- First Goldman, Now Tyson


A daily look at legal news and the business of law:

Goldman Sued for Gender Discrimination

Three former Goldman Sachs (GS) employees have sued Goldman alleging gender discrimination, reports Bloomberg. Seeking class action status, the women charge that "based upon companywide policies and practices, and ... unchecked gender bias that pervades Goldman Sachs's corporate culture," women were paid less, promoted less, and denied access to favorable job assignments. Whether or not the women win the case, they've offered up some unseemly anecdotes, ranging from a groping at a topless bar that was the site of the afterparty following a dinner celebrating a colleague's promotion, to the exclusion of a talented female golfer from a business golf outing. This is hardly a new problem on Wall Street: Many major investment firms have been sued for gender discrimination and settled the cases. In fact, Goldman is currently facing a different suit brought by a woman claiming discrimination after becoming a mom.

Labor Department Sues Tyson Over Gender Discrimination

According to a newly filed Labor Department suit, Tyson Foods systematically rejected female job applicants at its Joslin, Ill., cattle slaughtering plant, and as a result, should lose its current federal contracts and be barred from future ones until it has stopped discriminating. The government is also seeking back wages from Tyson (TSN) for about 750 women and the offer of jobs for more than 100. Tyson has denied the charges, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Louisiana Sues Transocean

BP (BP) isn't the only Gulf of Mexico oil spill lawsuit target, nor should it be. But Transocean (RIG), owner of the drill rig involved in the massive spill, has declared its liability is limited to only the 700,000 gallons that spilled from the rig itself -- a claim that, if it stands, would largely take one very deep pocket out of plaintiffs' reach. Rather than let that "not our fault" stance go unchallenged, the state of Louisiana has sued Transocean, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Coast Guard, which designated Transocean a "responsible party" along with BP, shares Louisiana's view. So does BP, which issued a blame-everybody report on the accident's causes which was previewed by its lawyers. How will the judge rule? We'll have to wait and see.

Can Shareholders Sue Over Big Bonuses?

Shareholders are attempting to sue Morgan Stanley over the billions it has paid out in bonuses, but first they must survive the company's motion to dismiss the case. The Am Law Litigation Daily reports that the arguments over that motion are being made Thursday. If the suit is allowed to go forward -- and more importantly, if the plaintiffs ultimately win -- expect grandiose bonuses and executive compensation plans to finally feel a powerful force reining them in. In Morgan Stanley's (MS) case, the shareholders note that the $14.4 billion the company reserved for 2009 compensation represented nearly two-thirds of the company's net revenues.

YRC Settles Race Discrimination Case for $10 Million

YRC (YRCW), a freight hauler formed by the merger of Yellow Transportation and Roadway Express, will pay $10 million to some 300 current and former employees to settle claims it discriminated against African American employees. The company will also implement new policies to prevent future discrimination, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Body Armor Executives Convicted

A Long Island jury convicted two former DHB executives of multiple fraud counts this week in one of the most grandiose corporate looting and fraud cases since Tyco, reports the New York Law Journal. David H. Brooks, the founder and ex-CEO of the body armor company, and Sandra Hatfield, the ex-CFO, face decades in prison and hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties.