Washington lawyer Cyrus Mehri, whose firm served as counsel in two of the largest race discrimination cases in history, will aid Burk's organization in looking into gender-related practices at eight financial companies.
Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations, has been campaigning for nearly two years to get the home of the Masters to admit a female member. She said the new initiative was prompted by anecdotal evidence received from female employees at the companies.
'The golf thing just triggered a much larger problem,' Burk said Tuesday. 'If Augusta were to admit a woman tomorrow, it wouldn't change anything that we've heard from women in the last year.'
Mehri was active in discrimination cases involving Texaco and Coca-Cola, and helped spur changes in hiring practices within the NFL. He said he is taking this case on a contingency basis.
'We're less focused on Hootieisms at Augusta than Hootieisms on Wall Street,' Mehri said.
The companies are American Express, Bank of America, Franklin Templeton, J.P. Morgan Chase, Stanley, CitiGroup, Berkshire Hathaway and Prudential. All have either a chairman or a CEO who is a member at Augusta National. Most declined to comment.
Franklin Templeton spokeswoman Lisa Gallegos said CEO Charles B. Johnson's membership at Augusta 'is a personal one and not a company membership and has nothing to do with our corporate policy.'
Augusta National spokesman Glenn Greenspan said the club would have no comment.
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