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January 9, 2015

KPMG US gender suit opt-ins rise to 900

By Isabella Grotto

The number of current and former KPMG US employees opting into the collective action offer as part of an ongoing gender-discrimination suit has risen to 900.

Lawyers at firm Sanford Heisler contacted 9,000 current and former female fee-earners at KPMG US in October 2014, extending them the opportunity to opt-in to the class action against the firm.

After an initially slow take-up immediately following the extension of the offer, with around 2% opt-ins in October, the number of former and current employees joining the suit has grown to 10%.

Speaking to the International Accounting Bulletin in October, senior litigation counsel Kate Mueting said similar cases had seen around 1,000 individuals choose to opt in out of 9,000 approached.

The most recent figures put the figure nearing a similar total, as the response period deadline of 31 January grows closer.

The suit has been ongoing since 2011, when former KPMG US employee Donna Kassman alleged she was denied a promotion and received a salary cut before going on maternity leave.

Kassman had been working for the firm’s New York office for 17 years and had risen to the position of manager when she resigned.

KPMG US has previously denied the accusations, describing the alleglations as being "without merit" and pledging to defend itself.

Sanford Heisler Kimpel partner and lead counsel for plaintiffs in the case Katherine Kimpel told IAB: "Now that hundreds of women have joined one another to stand together, KPMG’s desperate defense that it does not have a gender discrimination problem rings hollow.

"In joining together, these women are standing up for themselves and the thousands of women who worked and continue to work at KPMG to make it one of the most profitable accounting firms in the US," she added.

"With only a few weeks left for women to join, we are confident that many more women will send in their opt-in forms and, in so doing, take a stand against KPMG padding its own profits at the expense of KPMG women and their families."

Following the 31 January deadline, Sanford Heisler’s Mueting said she expects further legal proceedings and possible delays in reaching a final judgement, unless a settlement is reached.

Related articles:

KPMG sued $350m in gender discrimination suit

Equal pay suit against KPMG US intensifies as 9,000 women offered an opt-in

KPMG US gender discrimination suit sees 2% of approached women opt-in

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