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Former Deutsche Bank VP sues for sex discrimination

Heather Zhao says that the bank “disproportionately targeted” women in a recent round of layoffs

A former Deutsche Bank AG vice president is suing the bank for alleged gender and pregnancy discrimination, claiming that it “disproportionately targeted women” in a recent round of layoffs.

In a complaint filed Friday, Heather Zhao claimed that she complained to the bank’s human resources department after a male supervisor told her that he would prefer to work with a man rather than Zhao. In retaliation for the complaint, that supervisor purportedly denied Zhao her yearly bonus, despite the fact that she had earned more than $40 million in funds for the company.

Deutsche Bank subsequently fired Zhao in early 2013, shortly before the end of her maternity leave. The firing reportedly came after coworkers repeatedly directed discriminatory comments toward Zhao during her pregnancy.

And, according to Zhao’s lawsuit, she wasn’t the only female employee to face discrimination. The suit says the bank used a spate of recent layoffs to rid itself of “problematic” female employees, even though women “were already an extreme minority at the bank.”

New York plaintiffs’ attorney Douglas Wigdor, who is handling Zhao’s suit, has already brought another sex discrimination complaint against the German bank. In that suit, former Deutsche Bank employee Kelley Voelker accused the company of reducing her responsibilities after she came back from maternity leave.

A Deutsche Bank spokesman denied the allegations and said the bank will “defend itself vigorously,” Thomson Reuters reports.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of discrimination cases, see:

Pregnancy Discrimination Act does not require special accommodations

Proposed gender discrimination class action against KPMG can proceed

Labor suit against Akin Gump dismissed, labor suit filed against WilmerHale

EEOC warns employers of discrimination related to domestic violence

Accent-related discrimination suits on the rise, says EEOC

Judge tosses discrimination suit against Kaplan


Alanna Byrne

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