Burk-Backed Lawsuit to See $46 Million Payout
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Martha Burk retired as chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO) in 2005, but her four-year quest to persuade Augusta National to admit its first female member proved extremely costly last week for the New York-based investment banking firm of Morgan Stanley, which agreed to pay $46 million to settle a class action gender discrimination lawsuit filed by eight female employees representing 2,700 current and former employees.
The lawsuit, backed by Burk's group, focused on gender inequity in the distribution of accounts to female brokers and other business opportunities.
Morgan Stanley was among the first targets of the NCWO's Women on Wall Street project because its former chief executive, Philip Purcell, and three other members of Morgan Stanley's board of directors and two retired chairmen were members of Augusta National when the lawsuit was first filed, Burk said in an interview this week. All of them are no longer with the company.
"In terms of Augusta National, it's a straight arrow from their membership policies to this action," Burk said of a settlement that could grow to $70 million. "I would think that $46 million will certainly get their attention in Augusta."
Similar gender discrimination litigation against Smith Barney is currently in the courts, and Burk said the Women on Wall Street project also has targeted six other major companies headed by members of Augusta National -- American Express, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Prudential, Franklin Templeton and Berkshire Hathaway -- for future litigation.
A spokesman for Augusta National said the club would have no comment on the Morgan Stanley settlement.
Said Burk, "We're doing what we said we were going to do, and we've just started."
On the Mend
Annika Sorenstam, who hasn't played on the LPGA Tour for three weeks while she rehabilitates a ruptured disk in her neck, is aiming for a possible return to the tour in time for an event she is hosting, the Ginn Tribute, May 31-June 3 in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Sorenstam's physician, Bruce Thomas, told the Golf Channel this week that an MRI exam taken Monday was "very encouraging" and showed that "the disk that was ruptured has receded to some extent, and it no longer is compressing on her spinal cord. It was a clear difference from the prior MRI."
Asked about her long-term prognosis, Thomas said: "You never know. With these, sometimes they clear and she'll do well for years and years. It can just as easily rear its head some time in the future. She's developing new tactics for strengthening the muscles that surround the disc. With any luck, that will keep her from a long-term problem."
Virginia Tech's golf team was ranked seventh among the 11 schools entered in the ACC tournament 10 days ago in New London, N.C., but the Hokies managed to tie for the title with perennial power Georgia Tech. The event took place at the end of the week when 32 students and faculty were killed in an April 16 shooting on the school's Blacksburg campus.
Three Virginia Tech players birdied the final 568-yard 18th hole over the final round to help their team get to 10 under par for the week. Georgia Tech managed to match that total when sophomore Cameron Tringale also made a birdie on the final hole for a share of its 10th ACC title.
"We knew we had a lot of people pulling for us," Virginia Tech Coach Jay Hardwick said. "We hope in some small way this will help people start to move forward."
Up and Coming
Joe Monte, an 18-year-old senior at Chantilly High School and a 2006 All-Met golfer, missed the cut in his first professional event, shooting 84-74 in the Henrico County Open on the Nationwide Tour last week in the Richmond suburbs.
"I felt pretty comfortable, but I guess I was a little nervous, especially the first day," said Monte, who will attend Georgia Southern on a golf scholarship next year. "For the most part, it was a fun experience, a good learning experience being inside the ropes for a pro event." . . .
Fairfax native and former University of Virginia standout Stephen Marino, a rookie on the PGA Tour, had his best finish of the season, a tie for 10th, at the Byron Nelson Championship last Sunday and cashed his largest check of the year -- $157,000.