New York: A senior human resources manager at Toshiba Corp has filed a $ 100 million lawsuit accusing a U.S. unit of the Japanese technology company of "systemic" gender bias against women in pay and promotions.
The plaintiff, Elaine Cyphers, contends that Toshiba America Inc pays women lower salaries and bonuses than men who perform similar work. She says the company steers women into lower-grade positions, and favors men in promotions.
She said this results in an "astounding lack of women in leadership positions," despite Toshiba's creation six years ago of a "Gender Equality Office."
Toshiba and a lawyer for Cyphers did not immediately return requests for comment.
Cyphers said she has been human resources manager at Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corp, and the highest-ranking U.S. human resources employee at that unit.
The lawsuit is the latest of many accusing companies of favoring men over women in the workplace. It seeks class-action status on behalf of all current and former Toshiba female employees in the United States. Cyphers said she also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Last July, Novartis AG agreed to pay $175 million to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing the Swiss drugmaker of discriminating against 5,600 women sales representatives in pay and promotions.
A lawyer representing Cyphers was involved in that case.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide by June whether Wal-Mart Stores Inc must continue to defend against the largest U.S. class-action gender bias lawsuit in history, brought on behalf of as many as 1.5 million current and former female employees.
Cyphers said she had worked in human resources for a quarter century before Toshiba hired her in June 2008.
She said Toshiba soon promoted a less experienced man to a new position above her, and later sought to force her from the company in retaliation for complaints about discrimination.
Upon returning last month from a medical leave of absence, a supervisor told her to leave immediately and not return "until further notice," so she "promptly collected her belongings" and left, the complaint said.
The case is Cyphers v. Toshiba America Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-00642.