EMC Faces Class-Action Lawsuit

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EMC Corp. could face a sexual discrimination class action lawsuit, if a judge opens an existing case up to other female EMC workers, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Two women filed a lawsuit against the IT giant in 2004, alleging discrimination and harassment. On Monday, a judge for the U.S. District Court in Northern Illinois will hear arguments about whether to allow other women who worked in sales at EMC from 2001 to 2004 to join the suit, according to the Journal.

In a letter posted to EMC's Web site, Joe Tucci, the company's chairman, president and CEO strongly denied that discrimination or harassment happened or continue to occur at the company. "EMC has long been committed to maintaining a workplace free of discrimination and harassment, with significant opportunities for every employee to succeed and grow," he wrote.

He said that during the four years covered by the case, women sales reps at the company in the U.S. earned, on average, more than their male counterparts. Since 2001, the number of women at the vice president and senior vice president levels has more than doubled and the number of women at the director level has nearly tripled, he wrote.

However, the suit filed by former sales representatives Tami Remien and Debra Fletcher paints a very different picture. At the time they filed the suit, they said just one of EMC's most senior executives was a woman and that the Chicago sales office of 30 had at most six women.

Remien's managers, according to the suit, denied her the engineering and managerial support that her male counterparts received, took accounts that she had begun selling products to and gave them to less successful male sales people, and was told that she couldn't take on certain accounts because she didn't tolerate strip clubs, hunt, fish, drink or smoke. She claims that when she complained to human resources, her managers retaliated by taking away essentially all of her accounts and continued to deny her support.

She also claims that her boss often shouted gender-based obscenities at her and called her stupid.

Fletcher had similar experiences under the same manager. She also once made a large sale but her commission was given to a male co-worker because he had a family, according to the suit. One account was taken away from her after she was falsely accused of having a sexual relationship with the client, the suit claims.

Both women were let go from their jobs at EMC after being left with no accounts or with accounts that didn't generate revenue.

Twelve additional sex discrimination cases have been filed against EMC since 2001, according to the Journal's article.

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