Pantheon Ventures case shines spotlight on gender and age discrimination

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Carol Foster, the former head of North American Client Services for international equity fund manager Pantheon Ventures, has become the latest high-profile older, female business executive to file a lawsuit alleging both age and gender discrimination. Foster alleges that she lost prospective clients, past clients, promotional opportunities and financial incentives to younger, male colleagues during her tenure at Pantheon.

The allegations

Foster's case alleges that she suffered both blatant (a senior male executive referring to a gathering of female executives at a business dinner as a "hen party") and subtle (being ordered to give up a major portion of her client load portfolio to new hires when men at her level weren't asked to sacrifice the same number of their own preexisting clients) discrimination from the management at Pantheon.

Foster's lawsuit is similar to others filed by mature female executives at some of the nation's most recognizable businesses. For example, Ellen Pao, a partner at a major venture capital firm, brought suit earlier this year alleging sex and age discrimination similar to that complained about by Foster.

Foster's court filing details several different instances of possibly discriminatory behavior by the management team at Pantheon, specifically the above-mentioned "hen party" comment, the loss of client relationships, several years' worth of monetary bonuses that were not paid, disparately harsh consequences for not making sales quota goals and lower overall compensation amounts than male counterparts.

Making a case

Since Foster's case has only recently been filed in a California courtroom, it has not yet been tried, so the actual evidence she and her attorneys plan to use to prove her claims is unknown. There are certain elements that are usually present in successful workplace gender discrimination claims, though. These include:

  • Working with a skilled civil rights or employment law attorney from the beginning
  • Having copious documentation of discriminatory acts
  • Taking witness statements to back up claims
  • Keeping important paperwork in a safe place, where it will be protected from theft or destruction
  • Determining if similarly situated coworkers/colleagues have faced discrimination
  • Filing an official complaint with company management
  • Filing a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

If you or a loved one has been the victim of workplace gender or age discrimination, speak with an experienced attorney in your area. Doing so is a beneficial way to learn about your legal rights and administrative or judicial options that may be available to hold responsible parties accountable for discriminatory treatment.