Monday, December 3, 2007

Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins Redux?

Morganstanley_2 Anyone who knows employment discrimination law has read the stereotype gender discrimination case of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, in which the plaintiff, Ann Hopkins, did not make partnership at Price Waterhouse because she was too masculine and needed to go to charm school.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports today about happenings at Morgan Stanley which seem to raise similar issues:

Zoe Cruz appeared to be surviving the credit crisis that has roiled Wall Street. But the Morgan Stanley co-president's response in the aftermath of the firm's $3.7 billion in losses helped fuel her ultimate fall.

The 52-year-old executive didn't take personal responsibility for the losses at Morgan Stanley, according to people familiar with the firm, and instead lashed out at fellow employees in a series of meetings about the losses, raising questions about her management style . . . .

After Mr. Mack backed Ms. Cruz upon his return to the firm, he thought he could help Ms. Cruz improve her management style, and a personal coach was retained to work with her, people familiar with the firm said. But she didn't always display harmonious team work with her co-president, Mr. Scully, sometimes contradicting him in presentations.

Now there is nothing wrong with seeking to foster harmonious working relationships and holding executives responsible for company losses, but my question would be whether similarly situated men, with bad "management styles," were treated in the same manner.  If not, this might be a mixed motive employment discrimination case waiting to happen. 

One should also keep in mind that these events unfold not in a vaucum, but in a financial industry long known for its hostility to women and its lack of diversity.

PS

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2007/12/price-waterhous.html

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