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A $500 million sexual discrimination lawsuit against General Electric Co. brought by one of its former general counsel has cleared an early hurdle. A U.S. District Court judge in Connecticut flatly rejected GE’s motion to strike the allegations in the complaint. Judge Peter C. Dorsey ruled that GE failed to show that Lorene Schaefer, who serves as lead plaintiff in the lawsuit seeking class-action status, disclosed any company confidences by bringing the allegations. The judge wrote that “despite its artful legal arguments,” GE presented no more than conclusory allegations that Schaefer had breached confidentiality by filing the lawsuit. Schaefer, who previously was general counsel of GE’s transportation division, was placed on administrative leave in May, three weeks before she filed the lawsuit. The action alleges that more than 1,000 women lawyers and executives at GE received lower pay and fewer promotions than did their male counterparts. A spokesman for GE said that the company disagreed with the judge’s decision and will continue to contest the lawsuit.

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