Employees Allege Gender, Disability Discrimination in New Lawsuit Against PIMCO

The complaint comes just over a year after another employee — represented by the same lawyer — filed a similar lawsuit against the firm.

Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Two employees at Pacific Investment Management Co. are suing the firm and some of their fellow workers, alleging gender and disability discrimination.

Sue Collazo, vice president of alternative operations, and Lisa Anthony, manager on the client management support team, filed a complaint Wednesday in the Orange County Superior Court in California.

Their complaint alleged that PIMCO has a “fraternity culture” in which female employees are excluded from social events and face sexist comments at the office.

Collazo and Anthony made specific allegations that they were discriminated against based on gender and disability. After they each separately went to human resources about their managers’ behavior, they were demoted, they alleged.

“The claims in the filing have no merit, which PIMCO will demonstrate in court,” Michael Reid, a spokesperson for the firm, said via email.

Collazo and Anthony alleged that PIMCO violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Equal Pay Act, among others. The two are suing not only PIMCO, but also some of its employees, including Julie Shepherd, Ashley Kawasaki, Robin Shanahan, and Scott Schwarmann.

They are seeking compensatory and general damages, attorney’s fees, and other damages. They are also seeking that they will be reinstated to the roles from which they were allegedly demoted and paid full compensation according to the rate paid to their male counterparts.

Collazo, who joined PIMCO in 2011, alleges that her manager, Keith Werber, micromanaged her work and would confront her in front of other employees, treating her differently than the men on her team. She allegedly filed a complaint against him with HR in 2016.

According to the complaint, retaliation followed. Werber allegedly referred to her as “that f***ing b*tch Sue Collazo” and said he would make her life so miserable that she would quit. Male employees eventually raised the issue with HR, and Werber was reassigned, the complaint said.

Soon after, PIMCO allegedly conducted a gender compensation review, and told Collazo that they were going to increase her pay by $20,000, but not all at once: they would add $10,000 to her compensation in 2017, and another $10,000 in 2018, according to the complaint. The suit alleged that in 2018, Collazo’s new boss, Scott Schwarmann, demoted her. The complaint said that he then started to point out errors in her work, in what the suit called an attempt to force her out.

Anthony, meanwhile, started working for PIMCO in 2007. By 2014, she managed a team of between 20 and 30 people, the complaint said.

In 2015, Anthony began to experience a bevy of medical issues, including respiratory infections, peripheral neuropathy, and a cellulitis staph infection, that made activities like driving and being in the office difficult.

The complaint alleges that her direct manager, Shepherd, demoted Anthony under the guise of an accommodation, which reduced her base pay and expected bonus. The complaint said that Shepherd made “inappropriate, insensitive” comments about Anthony’s disability, which Anthony shared with HR.

“The experience of these women at PIMCO tell a clear story of a company that is rife with discrimination,” said Nancy Abrolat, who is representing Collazo and Anthony in this case. “Despite a long track record of success, both employees have faced deliberate attempts by their managers to create intolerable working conditions by undermining their authority and performance, all while the Human Resources department abet this shocking retaliation.”

[II Deep Dive: PIMCO Faces Gender Discrimination Lawsuit, Again]

Abrolat has also represented Andrea Martin Inokon, who filed a lawsuit against PIMCO in 2019, alleging that it discriminated against her when it came to pay, promotions, and mentorship.