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200 female employees join class action against KPMG US

MORE THAN 200 KPMG US female employees, past and present, have signed up to a class action against the firm.

Two weeks ago 9,000 KPMG US fee-earning women, from its advisory and tax divisions, were contacted about joining a class action against the firm, with the action alleging gender discrimination. The former and current employees, who have served between October 2008 and the present day, were contacted after a US district judge approved the communication on 3 October.

The action revolves around former KPMG manager Donna Kassman, who spent 17 years working in the firm’s New York office before resigning, then claiming that she and other females suffered gender discrimination.

The firm has been accused of developing a hostile work environment in which women are underpaid and rarely promoted to leadership roles. The UK business is uninvolved in the action.

Katherine Kimpel, a managing partner at Sanford Heisler and lead counsel for the plaintiffs, told Accountancy Age that the initial response from women looking to join the claim was “high”.

“It’s indicative of a real interest in this case, and [shows there’s] likely a real problem,” said Kimpel. Current employees have joined the case, Kimpel confirmed, but a ratio of existing versus former staff that have joined the action was currently unavailable.

KPMG has previously said: “We will not comment on pending litigation other than to note that plaintiffs’ allegations are without merit, and KPMG will vigorously defend itself.

“As we have noted previously, KPMG is recognised as a leader for its strong commitment to supporting women in the workplace. Diversity and inclusion have long been priorities for the firm, and as such are woven into our culture and everything we do. We continue to believe this lawsuit has no basis in fact.”

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