LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A female veteran Wells Fargo employee is suing the bank, alleging the institution has wrongfully passed her over for promotions in favor of men while paying her less money because she is a woman working in a "boys' club."
Vanessa Carney's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges gender discrimination, failure to pay equal wages, retaliation, and failure to prevent discrimination and harassment. Carney seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought Thursday.
A Wells Fargo representative could not be immediately reached for comment.
"Ms. Carney has been a victim of the male-dominated `boys' club' culture permeating Wells Fargo and has experienced first-hand discrimination on the basis of her gender in denying her benefits that were readily provided to her male counterparts," the suit alleges.
While Wells Fargo publicly boasts about its commitment to diversity and inclusion, its public pronouncements are "nothing more than window dressing and hollow gestures," according to the suit. The bank pays female employees far less than their male counterparts and provides fewer job opportunities and growth for equally or better-qualified women, the suit states.
Carney worked from 2005-21 in Wells Fargo's Asset-Backed Finance Sales Group and her duties included serving as the senior sales coverage person for large institutional fixed income accounts on both coasts, according to the complaint.
Despite receiving consistent positive work reviews, Carney's pay has not increased since 2010, and she has been denied promotions and advancements provided to her male peers, many of whom had less experience, fewer qualifications and "not even a fraction of her demonstrated commitment" to the bank through extra-curricular committee work, the suit states.
For the first seven years, while she worked at the El Segundo office from 2005-13, Carney was the only female employee, the suit states. Up until six months ago, Carney -- who has an MBA and about 22 years experience in financial services -- was the only woman out of 11 directors in Asset-Backed Finance Sales, according to the suit.
Wells Fargo male senior executives routinely called female employees "complainers, lame and bad traders," and they often referred to the plaintiff as a "young woman" and would implore her to "find her voice," the suit states.
Senior male executives routinely went to strip clubs with both colleagues and clients, using the time to bond with other males while excluding women from important gatherings, the suit states.
Senior male Wells Fargo executives have a "penchant for making homophobic, antisemitic, and racist comments," the suit further alleges.
Carney was forced to accept a demotion in January to obtain a needed location transfer of the type routinely granted to men, the suit alleges. Her current duties include selling certificates of deposit, agency discount notes, and treasury bills, the suit states.
Wells Fargo's "hastily-created role" for Carney will give her "markedly diminished visibility" within the bank and in the financial services industry and also will "further stymie and impact deleteriously a career trajectory that has already been exceedingly hamstrung over the last decade on the basis of gender," the suit states.