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Courts

PIMCO rejects claims in discrimination suit, calls executive an ‘ineffective’ manager

Pacific Investment Management Co. has responded to a suit by a top executive, disputing the claims by Stacy Schaus that her pay and opportunity for advancement were hampered by age and sex discrimination.

The company said Ms. Schaus, executive vice president and defined contribution practice leader, was a well-paid executive but an "ineffective" and poor manager, according to a court filing Wednesday.

Ms. Schaus "has been very well paid, earning a seven-figure annual income, which was at or near the top of the market for her role," said PIMCO's response, in the case of Schaus vs. Pacific Investment Management Co. et al., filed in California Superior Court in Westminster. Ms. Schaus, who remains at PIMCO, filed her complaint April 4.

"Despite PIMCO's efforts to provide her with support and an opportunity to grow, (Ms. Schaus) has not advanced to other roles due to a long history ofpoor performance as a manager of others and resistance to feedback and change," the document said.

"PIMCO denies that it has paid Ms. Schaus less than male counterparts for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill effort and responsibility, and performed under similar work conditions," the document stated. She has been the "highest paid individual in the defined contribution function throughout her career at PIMCO."

The company rejected several allegations by Ms. Schaus that she was bypassed by younger male executives due to age and sex bias.

In one instance, for example, a male executive was transferred from another PIMCO job in 2009 to be in charge of Ms. Schaus and PIMCO's entire U.S. retirement business. The executive, John Miller, had seven years of seniority over Ms. Schaus and had "successfully managed" other PIMCO business units while Ms. Schaus had been an "ineffective" manager, the document said.

When Mr. Miller left PIMCO in 2015, his successor, Richard Fulford, had been with the company six years longer than Ms. Schaus had and had been appointed in 2009 as head of public channel, the document said.

The company also disputed her account of complaining in 2016 to then-president Jay Jacobs. In her legal filing, she said "it appeared that Mr. Jacobs and PIMCO ignored plaintiff's complaints completely."

In PIMCO's response, the company said Mr. Jacobs directed the global head of human resources to investigate the allegations, finding "no discrepancy" in Ms. Schaus' compensation. A similar examination of her pay yielded the same results in 2017.

Mr. Jacobs and another PIMCO executive, Thomas Otterbein, managing director and head of the institutional client management group in the Americas, told Ms. Schaus that although she "had been a strong contributor with her client management skills, she continued to fall short on supervisor and management skills," the PIMCO response said. "This has led to her role being more of a subject matter expert than a leader of others."

PIMCO also rejected Ms. Schaus' contention that her pay was cut by 30% in 2016. The pay was reduced in 2015, 2016 and 2017 "in light of (a) substantial decline in the size of PIMCO's defined contribution and overall business," the PIMCO document stated.

"Many employees saw declines in their compensation and some employees were laid off," PIMCO said. "The reduction in Ms. Schaus' level of compensation was significantly less than the percentage decline in the defined contribution business."

Ms. Schaus could not be immediately reached for further comment.