Pimco Advances a Blanket Denial in Sexual Harrasment Lawsuit

By Joel Rosenblatt | March 12, 2021

Pacific Investment Management Co. advanced an aggressive, categorical denial to recent claims that female employees were sexually harassed and retaliated against at the money manager.

The filing late Wednesday in state court near Pimco’s Newport Beach, California, office was its first meaningful legal response to a lawsuit joined by three women alleging they were harassed and discriminated against because they’re female.

The company argued that it has repeatedly granted the women prolonged medical leaves and “accommodated their health issues well beyond what the law requires.”

“Salacious and unfounded” claims of two of the women were made “to garner media attention” and “inflame Pimco’s clients” into questioning the company’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, the company said in the filing, in which it also requested that the suit be thrown out and it be awarded attorney fees and costs.

Last month Amanda Thiem, who served as chief assistant to the former chairman of Pimco funds, Brent Harris, became the fifth woman to join the lawsuit. Among her claims, Thiem said Harris made a sexual advance on her in his home and demoted her after she refused.

The suit was originally filed in November by two women at Pimco’s Newport Beach office claiming the company marginalizes, demeans and undervalues women and that male leaders favor other men regardless of their qualifications. Worker gatherings at strip clubs, golf outings and poker nights, alienated female employees, according to the suit.

In its filing, Pimco said the focus of the suit should turn away from sexual harassment allegations to the former employees’ poor work performance.

“When the language designed to create a false image of a workplace is stripped away, what remains are five separate and unrelated instances of disputes over performance, pace of advancement, and workplace logistics,” Pimco said.

Pimco has previously said it investigates all allegations of misconduct and holds its employees to the highest ethical standards. Harassment, discrimination, sexual impropriety or any other misconduct has no place at the company, Pimco has said.

The case is Collazo v. Pacific Investment Management Co., 30-2020-01170559, California Superior Court, Orange County (Santa Ana).

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