A top attorney at General Electric Co. sued the company on Thursday, claiming that she and more than 1,500 other women executives were systematically underpaid and underpromoted.
The lawyer, Lorene Schaefer, claimed that women are underrepresented at the conglomerate's top levels and denied promotion to corporate executive ranks.
In papers filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut, Schaefer, 43, charged GE, the world's second-largest company by market capitalization, with gender discrimination. Her suit also names 13 GE officers and directors, including Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt.
The GE suit came two days after a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people have only six months to bring lawsuits claiming pay discrimination.
Schaefer's suit, which is seeking class-action status, seeks $500 million in damages for a class of about 1,500 to 1,700 GE women executives and lawyers, according her attorney, David Sanford of Sanford Wittels & Heisler LP.
"This lawsuit is designed to achieve systemic injunctive relief to change GE's discriminatory pay and promotions practices and policies," Schaefer charged in court papers. "Women have made few inroads into the domain of the officer's 'club' at GE."