November 27, 2014
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Gender Bias Alleged At Tech Giant

 NEW YORK -- The Human Resources Manager of Toshiba America Nuclear Energy (TANE) Corporation filed a class action employment lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York today in an effort to end systemic, companywide gender discrimination against herself and other female employees by TANE and its parent corporation, Toshiba America, Inc.

Elaine Cyphers joined TANE as its Human Resources Manager in June 2008.  Prior to joining Toshiba, she had more than 25 years of human resources experience.  

According to the Complaint, although Toshiba publicly touts its commitment to gender diversity and its efforts to promote more female employees to managerial positions, discrimination against women is pervasive in the company.  

The Complaint details a pattern of discrimination against women employed by the giant technology manufacturer and energy system supplier.  The Complaint asserts that Toshiba engages in systemic gender discrimination against female employees by paying them less than their male counterparts, denying them promotions into better and higher paying positions, limiting their employment opportunities to lower and less desirable job classifications, and exposing them to different treatment as employees. The Complaint also details preferential treatment that males at Toshiba receive with respect to salary, benefits, bonuses and promotions.  

Ms. Cyphers is represented in the matter by David Sanford in the Washington D.C. office of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP.  The firm recently secured the largest jury award in the U.S. in an employment discrimination case, in this same court, in May 2010when a jury returned a verdict of $253 million in compensatory and punitive damage at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.  After weeks of negotiations, the parties settled that case for $175 million.

"Ms. Cyphers has experienced personal and painful gender discrimination at Toshiba America Nuclear Energy," said David Sanford.  "As an experienced human resources professional, she is very aware of the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Pay Act, which Toshiba has systematically violated in its treatment of her and its other female employees. The company added insult to injury by retaliating against Elaine. This suit will remedy that retaliation and discriminatory conduct."

In January 2009, Ms. Cyphers and another employee reported discriminatory conduct by Toshiba's Vice President of Human Resources to the company's General Counsel. After Ms. Cyphers lodged her complaint, the Vice President and General Counsel launched a campaign to force Ms. Cyphers out of TANE by retaliating against her in ways that harmed her reputation, hindered her advancement and limited her earning potential.  

The Complaint describes this retaliatory response as typical of Toshiba's pattern and practice of facilitating and perpetuating gender discrimination against female employees by discouraging employees from complaining about such discrimination, failing to properly investigate reports of such discrimination, and failing to remedy or prevent the recurrence of gender discrimination reported to the company.

Subsequent to Ms. Cyphers' interviewing for and accepting TANE's "top" HR job, Toshiba created a new HR position above her, and did not publicize the new position or inform Ms. Cyphers about it.  TANE filled the new position from within Toshiba with a male less qualified and experienced than she. After that male's promotion, Ms. Cyphers was stripped of her primary duties as HR Manager and assigned low-level administrative and clerical tasks. Ms. Cyphers' responsibilities for recruiting and hiring were taken away and assigned to a less qualified and experienced male contract employee.

The proposed class includes all females employed by Toshiba in the U.S.  Ms. Cyphers is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, back pay, front pay and lost benefits, as well as compensatory, nominal and punitive damages in an amount of $100 million or more for herself and similarly situated female Toshiba employees.

Toshiba America is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Toshiba Corporation, a technology manufacturer with 364 consolidated subsidiaries worldwide.  With some 8,000 employees throughout the US, it is the parent company of a group of technology companies that develop, manufacture and market electronic products.  Toshiba America is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in New York City. TANE is a subsidiary of Toshiba America that markets and promotes advanced boiling water nuclear power plants and related supports and services.  It is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Falls Church, VA.  

About Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP

Sanford Wittels & Heisler LLP (SWH) is a boutique class-action litigation law firm with offices in New YorkWashington, D.C., and San Francisco. SWH specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with employment discrimination, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, whistleblower, consumer fraud, and other claims. Along with an expertise in class actions, SWH also represents select individuals and has developed a particular expertise in the representation of executives in employment disputes. 


STORY TAGS: WOMEN NEWS, MINORITY NEWS, DISCRIMINATION, DIVERSITY, FEMALE, UNDERREPRESENTED, EQUALITY, GENDER BIAS, EQUALITY



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