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Female PIMCO executive sues firm over age, sex discrimination

Stacy Schaus of PIMCO
Stacy Schaus

Stacy Schaus, executive vice president and defined contribution practice leader of PIMCO, has sued her employer of 12 years, citing age and sex discrimination affecting her pay and thwarted promotion.

When Ms. Schaus accused the Newport Beach, Calif.-based money manager of sex and age discrimination in 2016, "PIMCO launched a series of retaliatory attacks ... that has resulted in a demotion coupled with a significant decrease in her compensation," said the complaint filed April 4 in California Superior Court in Westminster.

The case is Schaus vs. Pacific Investment Management Co. and "Does 1 through 150, inclusive." The latter defendants are sued under fictitious names pursuant to the California Code of Civil Procedure, the lawsuit said. The code allows plaintiffs to sue without knowing the names of defendants, then amending complaints when the names are known.

These unnamed defendants are "in some manner responsible for the wrongs and damages" alleged by Ms. Schaus, the lawsuit said.

She alleged age and sex discrimination in May 2016 to then-President Jay Jacobs, the lawsuit said. "It appeared that Mr. Jacobs and PIMCO ignored plaintiff's complaints completely," the lawsuit said. Mr. Jacobs retired last year.

"After a couple of initial meetings, PIMCO paid mostly lip service" to her complaints, the lawsuit said. "Instead, at the end of the year, in what can only be described as retaliation, plaintiff's compensation magically shrank nearly 30%."

Ms. Schaus, who remains at PIMCO, could not be reached for comment.

"This complaint completely mischaracterizes the circumstances of this case, and PIMCO will be presenting detailed facts which show that the employee was treated fairly," Michael Reid, a PIMCO spokesman, wrote in an email. "PIMCO's policy is to compensate all of our employees fairly with pay and promotion opportunities without regard to any factor other than performance."

Ms. Schaus' complaint said she was unfairly bypassed for promotion to executive vice president from senior vice president in 2009 in favor of "a significantly younger man to lead the defined contribution team."

Although she was elevated to executive vice president in 2012, PIMCO "once again failed to promote" her in 2015, and "instead selected a significantly younger man to again lead the defined contribution team."

Ms. Schaus' complaint also said she was unfairly denied promotion to managing director. "Only 10 women hold positions of managing director or higher out of 76 managing directors employed by PIMCO," her lawsuit said.

The complaint criticized two of her supervisors — Richard Fulford, executive vice president and head of the U.S. retirement business, and Thomas Otterbein, managing director and head of the institutional client management group in the Americas.

"Throughout 2017, Mr. Otterbein, with assistance from Mr. Fulford, methodically took away plaintiff's thought leadership, a responsibility that is critical to her ability to influence both clients and consultants and be promoted within PIMCO," the lawsuit said. In October 2017, "Mr. Otterbein demoted plaintiff by taking away all of plaintiff's direct reports."

The lawsuit said PIMCO assigned a management coach to Ms. Schaus, who issued a positive evaluation. The coach's report debunked the "false narrative that somehow plaintiff is a bad manager," the lawsuit said.

Ms. Schaus' complaint also said Mr. Fulford, her immediate supervisor, gave her a positive year-end review in 2015. After she made her sex and age discrimination complaint in 2016, Mr. Fulford gave her a poor year-end review in 2016.

Messrs. Fulford and Otterbein, through the spokesman Mr. Reid, declined to comment.

In his email, Mr. Reid acknowledged that "female representation in senior positions is a challenge for the global investment management industry," adding that PIMCO "continues to work together with other organizations to develop a more inclusive and equal workforce."

PIMCO recently appointed an ombudsman "for employees who wanted to discuss workplace issues with a confidential, neutral, independent and informal external resource," Mr. Reid wrote. "This was designed to encourage employees globally to raise concerns about issues we may not be aware of."

PIMCO provides managers and employees with workplace training "to identify and combat unintended unconscious biases, including annual guidance for leaders making compensation and promotion decisions," he added.