NEW YORK, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Bloomberg LP won a significant court victory on Tuesday when a U.S. judge denied a class-action discrimination suit brought by pregnant women against the financial-news and media-services company.
The privately-held New York-based Bloomberg LP, founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was sued in Manhattan federal court in 2007 by the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of pregnant employees who accused the company of engaging in a pattern of discrimination against them in pay and responsibilities.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, in throwing out the suit, said "the evidence presented in this case is insufficient to demonstrate that discrimination was Bloomberg's standard operating procedure, even if there were several isolated instances of individual discrimination."
Preska's ruling was issued on Tuesday and made publicly available on Wednesday.
An EEOC spokeswoman said in a statement, "We regret today's decision, and look forward to proceeding with the individual claims and will assess our options."
Having lost the consolidated claim as a result of Tuesday's opinion, the EEOC can now proceed with similar allegations, but only on behalf of 65 individual women. Of those 65, there are 6 women who are pursuing separate actions against the company.
The ruling did not cite the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Dukes vs. Wal-Mart, issued in June, which was expected to make it harder to win class certification in discrimination cases. Class certification was not required in the Bloomberg case because it was brought by the EEOC and not private parties.
In dismissing the lawsuit, Preska recognized it was a "heralded complaint" at the time of its filing, two years into Mayor Bloomberg's second term as mayor.
The widely-publicized filing portrayed a hard-charging work environment at Bloomberg, where demanding managers rewarded big workloads, and dedication to the company was rewarded with higher pay and other incentives.
The EEOC, a federal agency that fights workplace discrimination, filed the lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of possible claimants who were pregnant or took maternity leave at the company between 2002 and 2009.
The group alleged that "Bloomberg reduced pregnant women's or mothers' pay, demoted them in title or in number of directly reporting employees ... reduced their responsibilities, excluded them from management meetings, and subjected them to stereotypes about female caregivers," the court order said.
Ultimately, the judge said, "the anecdotal evidence offered is not the kind of high-quality and pervasive anecdotal evidence of a pattern or practice of discrimination other courts have relied on when faced with a complete lack of statistical evidence of discrimination."
Bloomberg LP praised the decision. "The U.S. District Court's ruling today confirms what we have known all along that the evidence is squarely on our side and that this case is without merit," spokesman Ty Trippet said.
The judge noted that Bloomberg LP had increased maternity leave compensation since the discriminatory behavior is alleged to have begun.
The case is Equal Opportunity Commission v. Bloomberg LP, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 07-8383.
For EEOC: Rachael L. Adams.
For Bloomberg LP: Thomas Golden with Wilkie Farr and Gallagher in New York, and Eric Dreiband with Jones Day in Washington D.C.
For Intervenor Plaintiffs: Dealy and Silberstein in New York, and The Roth Law Firm in New York.
(Reporting by Basil Katz; Additional reporting by Moira Herbst)
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