T. Rowe Price discriminates, ex-staffer alleges Suit charges bias against women, Jews

June 26, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

Debra J. Diamond says she was treated unfairly by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. from the start.

Ms. Diamond says in a federal discrimination lawsuit that she had to pay her relocation costs when she joined the Baltimore investment company 15 years ago, although the company picked up moving expenses for men hired at the same level.

And for the next 15 years, Ms. Diamond claims in court papers, T. Rowe Price paid her less than her male counterparts, promoted less-qualified men over her and excluded her from important social events and club memberships because of her gender and religion.

Ms. Diamond, 39, who is Jewish, alleges in papers filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore that T. Rowe Price engaged in a wide-ranging pattern of discrimination against women and Jews.

A lawyer for the company denied those charges.

"The facts will clearly demonstrate that she was treated fairly," said Richard J. Hafets, an attorney for T. Rowe Price. "Basically, we think the allegations are lacking in any merit at all."

Mr. Hafets noted that many of Ms. Diamond's allegations are from incidents she says occurred several years ago. She did not complain at the time about being treated unfairly, he said, adding that he would file court papers denying the allegations.

Ms. Diamond was a mutual fund manager at the company when she was discharged March 24. She said yesterday that she was considering other job prospects but would not comment on her case.

She filed a discrimination suit against the company April 16. The amended complaint filed this week charges that women and Jews were excluded from the highest positions at T. Rowe Price.

Ms. Diamond says in the court papers that she received less than half the salary of male counterparts with similar experience when she joined the company as a financial analyst in 1977. She says she was placed on three months' probation but that men in similar positions were given permanent status immediately.

She eventually became a fund manager, but she says she was denied promotion to president of the company's New Horizons Fund in the mid-1980s although she had the best investment record with that equity fund. Instead, she says, the job was handed to a male employee with little experience with the fund.

Later, she was turned down for the position of managing director, which would have provided more benefits, stock, bonuses, recognition and status, she says. She claims the title was offered only to male employees, and that men were elevated to that position despite having made fewer contributions to the company than she had.

The suit says a member of the company's all-male management committee told her, "Now you don't really want to be one of those managing directors."

It says Ms. Diamond "was devastated upon hearing this, knowing that no matter how loyal she was, or how great her accomplishments or contributions to the company's profits, she would never be considered 'managing director' material because she simply was not 'one of the guys.' "

Court papers say she was the only woman or Jew to become an equity fund manager at T. Rowe Price "despite the significant number of qualified female and Jewish individuals in Baltimore's financial community." Documents allege that the company's board of directors always has been all-male and that no Jew has been named to the board.

The suit seeks $10 million in pay, lost benefits and damages.

"The salaries we're dealing with are very large," said Marcy M. Hallock, Ms. Diamond's attorney. "This is not a puffed-up figure. It reflects the amount of loss she will suffer."

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