On Wednesday, Morgan Stanley settled a civil suit with eight of its former female employees who alleged that the bank discriminates against women in terms of how they are trained, paid, and promoted. This was at least the second time since 2004 that the bank has found itself involved in a fracas with the ladies. Following the verdict, we sat down with Jan Tyler, one of the plaintiffs.
DealBreaker: So. Were you happy with your portion of the $46 million settlement?
Jan Tyler: I’m not allowed to say whether I was happy or not, according to Cyrus Mehri [one of the lawyers who represented the eight plaintiffs], who I hate.
DB: Can you blink me an answer?
JT: No. I will tell you this—I’m writing a book. Based on my experience.
DB: Interesting—a memoir?
JT: It’s going to be like a James Frey book [, A Million Little Pieces].
DB: So you’re going to make stuff up?
JT: I don’t like to think of it as making stuff up. In my writing class, my instructor told us that James Frey had started a new genre—it’s called Fact/Fiction.
DB: James Frey lied about what happened to him; he fabricated experiences and then presented them as fact. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, but is that what you’re planning on doing?
JT: No, no, it’s not lying. It’s—it’s shuffling the deck a bit. I’m shuffling the cards but I’m not using a whole new deck. I have to do this, because if it’s not sexy, people won’t buy the book, and then they won’t hear this important story. They won’t hear that this was allowed to happen because there is no oversight in branch offices. Branch managers are little kings and are so far from Wall Street that they think they can do whatever they want and treat people however they want. People need to know that so I’m going to make it a sexy story, by shuffling the deck.
DB: Will there be a 5-card Stud?
JT: [Blank stare]
DB: [Waits for laughter, recognition, anything]
JT: [Blank stare]
DB: How do you reconcile the fact that you say you want to share what happened to you, the discrimination, which, while not like what happened at Merrill Lynch (and probably a lot of other places), was still unacceptable, with the fact that you’re not going to tell an entirely truthful story?
JT: Because the only way people will know is if they buy the book and the only way they’ll buy the book is if it’s a page turner. It’s true that I was a 36 year old woman [when she started at Morgan Stanley, 18 years ago], and I was seen as on the same level, or below a bunch of 24 year-old drunk boys. That’s true. I’m just going to build on that and add to it. And then they’ll know the truth and be enlightened.
DB: But the truth will be a lie.
JT: Did you read Mergers and Acquisitions?
JT: It was a great book.
DB: The best.
JT: I read it in three hours. I’d never read anything like it. Reading Dana Vachon’s book made me want to write a book like him, like James Frey. It was real but it wasn’t all real. Like the scene on the boat [in Cabo, when his JS Spenser boss does an elaborate dance with two scantily clad women that includes, among other things, The Moonwalk, The Worm and a band of pirates boarding the ship and killing/kidnapping a dozen or so people], I had a sense that that wasn’t entirely true.
DB: Actually, I’ve talked to Dana about that and if anything in the book actually ever took place in real life, it was that scene on the boat.
JT: Well there you go. You know what I’m trying to say though, right?
What do you think Jan is trying to say?