General Electric (GE) is the world’s largest company with 304,000 employees worldwide. It was formed in 1892 by the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomas-Houston Company of Massachusetts and incorporated in Schenectady, New York. It was one of the original 12 companies listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the only original one remaining.
GE is currently a multinational conglomerate and is one of the major players in wind power and in developing other alternative energy products. It is also involved in the generation and distribution of electricity, lighting, medical imaging, aviation services and financial services. It has also been known for its household appliance products.
In 2005, a class action lawsuit was filed against GE alleging that its Bloomington, Indiana factory had produced defective refrigerators in 2001 and 2002 in which rust and black substances had been found in ice cube trays and sharp plastic pieces had broken off from the ice makers. GE soon admitted that its GSS-22 model refrigerators had moisture-related problems and agreed to replace those needing more than three repairs.
The settlement also gave owners a one-year extended warranty on the new units and 100% reimbursement for repair expenses. There were 304 listed model numbers covered in the settlement.
On May 31, 2007, a gender discrimination class action suit was filed by GE’s general counsel in U.S. District Court in Connecticut alleging that GE systematically discriminated against its 1500 executive female employees in its pay and promotion practices. The suit maintained that the percentage of women in officer ranks had been at 13% for the previous five years and at 20% for senior executive band jobs. The suit requested $500 million for back and front pay for the 1500 female employees and is one of the largest gender discrimination class actions ever filed.
In 2009, GE was served with a securities class action suit on behalf of investors who had purchased GE common stock between January 23, 2009 and February 27, 2009. The suit alleged that GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, had misrepresented GE’s financial condition in a statement on January 23, 2009. He sold thousands of his own shares before February 27, 2009 at which time GE announced dividend reductions causing its share prices to lose substantial value.