EEOC: Morgan Stanley Discriminated Against Female Employees - TheStreet

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

( MWD) discriminated against a securities saleswoman and other female employees in its Institutional Equity Division, the federal

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

ruled Monday.

Morgan Stanley also violated the

Civil Rights Act

by retaliating against the woman, Allison K. Schieffelin, after she complained of sexual harassment at the Wall Street investment bank, the EEOC concluded.

The decision gives Morgan Stanley an opportunity to reach a settlement with the EEOC and remedy the situation. But it most likely will lead to civil suits against Morgan Stanley by the EEOC and Schieffelin, predicted her New York lawyer, Wayne Outten.

"Morgan Stanley could undertake to conciliate," Outten said. "Based on their past handling of this matter, I'm not optimistic that's going to happen."

Morgan Stanley strongly objected to the EEOC's conclusions.

"We emphatically disagree with the findings of the commission," spokesman Ray O'Rourke said. "We do not practice or condone employment discrimination of any kind."

The firm plans to meet with the EEOC to try to resolve the dispute, O'Rourke said.

This isn't the first time Morgan Stanley has faced a discrimination claim from within its ranks. In a case that has garnered considerable publicity, fired analyst Christian Curry sued the firm last year charging he was let go because of his race and perceived sexual orientation. Morgan Stanley fired Curry, who is black, after he appeared naked in a gay pornography magazine.

Morgan Stanley has said Curry was fired in 1998 for misuse of his expense account. O'Rourke said Morgan Stanley also "emphatically" rejects Curry's allegations.

And Wall Street has seen plenty of sex discrimination suits by investment bank employees in recent years. Two such actions, filed by female employees of

Merrill Lynch

( MER) and

Smith Barney

(now

Salomon Smith Barney

) in the late 1990s, eventually were settled.

Schieffelin, 39, remains an employee at Morgan Stanley, where she began working in 1986 after graduating from

Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management

. She filed a discrimination claim with the EEOC against Morgan Stanley in 1998, charging that she had repeatedly been denied promotion to managing director because she's a woman.

She claimed she and other female employees at the firm were excluded, unlike their male counterparts, from company-sponsored events such as golf outings, trips to Las Vegas and visits to strip clubs.

Evidence, including documents and witness testimony, showed that Morgan Stanley subjected Schieffelin and other women working for its Institutional Equity Division to "a pattern and practice of discrimination because of their sex," wrote Spencer Lewis Jr., the EEOC's New York district director.

"Evidence of record also indicates that

Schieffelin has been retaliated against as alleged," he wrote.

O'Rourke at Morgan Stanley said the firm looks forward to reviewing the data the EEOC used in reaching its decision. "The information that we submitted showed no evidence of discrimination whatsoever," he said.