Morgan Stanley Settles Gender Discrimination Case for $750,000

Tacoma, WA

On December 11, 2007, financial services firm Morgan Stanley agreed to settle claims of gender discrimination and defamation made by a former Financial Advisor in its Tacoma Branch for payment of $750,000. Deborah Dodson, who had worked as a Financial Advisor for Morgan Stanley from 1996 to 2005, filed suit in 2006 alleging that she was denied a lucrative joint production agreement with a senior advisor when the partnership was given to a less experienced and less qualified male broker in the office. Ms. Dodson’s suit also alleged that when she left Morgan Stanley, the broker who was able to enter into the joint production agreement called many of her clients in an attempt to retain their business and falsely claimed that Ms. Dodson had been fired for poor sales, and that she had been “overcharging” her clients.

In pleadings before the court, Ms. Dodson alleged that she was denied the partnership in part because of the social relationship between the Manager of the Tacoma Branch and the male broker who received the partnership, and what was described to her as the “good old boy” way of doing business.

Ms. Dodson, who now works as a financial advisor at H & R Block FA, hailed the settlement. “The Tacoma Morgan Stanley branch has been dysfunctional for years, and a very unpleasant place for female brokers. I hope this settlement is a recognition by the Company of the problem and I hope there will be a commitment to address the issues.”

The case originated when Ms. Dodson filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in August of 2004. After an investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that Morgan Stanley’s policy of allowing established financial advisors to subjectively choose partners for lucrative agreements resulted in Dodson being unlawfully denied such a partnership in November of 2003 because of her sex.

Ms. Dodson was represented by attorneys Terry Venneberg and Ken Friedman, both of Bremerton. According to Venneberg, “Discrimination based on gender has unfortunately been a serious problem for many years in the financial services industry. It is our hope that this settlement, which follows on the heels on several settlements of class action lawsuits for gender discrimination against Morgan Stanley, will help rid the industry of unlawful discrimination, and give women the opportunity to succeed in what has traditionally been a male-dominated business.”

Trial was scheduled to begin December 17, 2007.
Further information: Terry Venneberg 360-377-3566
Ken Friedman 360-782-4300