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PIMCO accused of discrimination, retaliation by female executive

Pacific Investment Management Co. was accused of sex and age-based discrimination as well as retaliation by a female executive who alleges she was repeatedly passed over for promotion because she was a woman and demoted when she complained about it.

Stacy Schaus, an executive vice president at the Newport Beach, Calif.-based asset manager, claims that she twice lost out on a promotion to a significantly younger man in spite of her exceptional performance. She also claims that she was paid less for doing the same work as her male peers.

"PIMCO has admitted in numerous internal documents dating back to at least 2011 that it has an 'unconscious bias' against women," according to the complaint Ms. Schaus filed April 4 in Orange County Superior Court. "However, PIMCO's bias against women, especially female executives over the age of 50, is anything but unconscious."

Of 76 managing directors at PIMCO, 10 women hold positions of managing director or higher, according to Ms. Schaus' complaint. Of the 211 executive vice presidents at the company, 41 were female as of April 2, Ms. Schaus said.

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

'PIMCO women'

Ms. Schaus alleges that when she complained to PIMCO's management in 2016 about her unfair treatment, her compensation "magically" shrank almost 30% and the company fabricated multiple complaints against her by low-level employees, which were then used to demote her.

According to Ms. Schaus' profile on PIMCO's website, she heads the defined contribution practice for retirement plans such as 401(k)s, where individuals set aside a fixed amount each pay period, and has written extensively on the subject.

In 2016, PIMCO said it had created a senior management position to oversee and further advance its initiatives aimed at cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Among the company's initiatives is PIMCO Women, which the company says focuses on attracting, developing and retaining female employees.

The case is Schaus vs. Pacific Investment Management Co., 30-2018-00983754, California Superior Court, Orange County.