By: Delphine Jung
They denounce the discrimination they suffer at the risk of jeopardizing their career …
Traci Ribeiro is single and has no children. She worked for Sedgwick’s Chicago office. But it was in California, where the firm was founded, that the trial of Mr. Ribeiro against his employer began. Last April, both parties reached an interim settlement. On August 3, the ABA Journal learned that she was no longer working at the Chicago offices in Sedgwick.
Me Ribeiro is one of two associates who has pursued her practice over the last two years, accusing her of sex discrimination. She claims that male associates, with equivalent or even lower performance, earned more than she did.
She is represented by David Sanford, a lawyer specializing in labor law, based in Washington.
Several statistical data show that women in large law firms earn less than their male counterparts, have fewer opportunities for leadership while on the other side, they have many years of experience.
In October 2015, the National Association of Women Lawyers and the NAWL Foundation conducted a study of the top 200 law firms. Thirty of them had a female partner who earned 80% of what a partner earns.
And according to the survey of the National Association of Women’s Lawyers, men account for 82% of cabinet associates.
But prosecuting his employer for gender-based discrimination continues to be considered professional suicide.
David Stanford also brought the case for discrimination against Greenberg Traurig and Howrey (Howrey closed in 2011). Last November, he said he represented 12 lawyers who accused their companies of sex discrimination.
“When courageous people move forward and focus on compensation and promotion practices in the workplace, I noticed that there was more and more interest and support,” says Stanford.
“I had a number of different cases, but I certainly saw more cases of discrimination based on gender and age than other cases,” says Merrick Rossein, a professor of law at New York University School of Law and a member of the National Panel of the American Arbitration Association for the Resolution of Employment.
“Most often, women complain that they do not have the same type of mentorship as men or that they are not recognized as full collaborators,” he told the ABA Journal.
Two of Sanford’s clients claim that they were often assigned partners who lacked legal skills compared to those to which male associates were entitled. Cabinets would also have a culture that favors men’s success at the expense of women’s success.
“It seems obvious to me that women are seen as second-class citizens,” said Kerrie Campbell , who in August 2016 also filed a discrimination complaint against Chadbourne & Parke. Earlier this year, Chadbourne & Parke and Norton Rose announced their merger.
She continued to practice in the practice until April 2017, when she was dismissed by the other associates. The reason given was that his practice did not fit the firm’s strategic direction.
In such situations, lawyers face a tough choice: to remain silent and see no change, to look for better opportunities elsewhere or to pursue the firm at risk of dealing with repercussions.
Me Ribeiro looked for other lawyers in the same situation to file a class action, but no one dared to get wet.
The case of Kerrie Campbell has been filed in the Southern District of New York and she is also seeking a class action.
The third lawsuit, filed on May 12 against Proskauer Rose, is in the name of Jane Doe . The alleged victim alleges that in addition to violating the Equal Pay Act, Proskauer violated the sick and family leave law.
In a statement, Proskauer says the median pay for male and female associates is almost identical, but the firm considers specialty and experience as a factor. The firm also pointed to the complainant’s poor ranking in terms of income generation.
A good idea ?
If associates think they are being treated unfairly, lawsuits may not be the best way to defend themselves, says Lauri Damrell , a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in Sacramento, California.
“If you have problems, talk to your mentors and understand the reasons for their decisions,” she says. Even if the person is an excellent lawyer, it does not always mean that she would be the best choice. ”
Ariana Levinson , a law professor at the University of Louisville, suspects that when associated to war against his firm for discrimination, the news spreads despite confidentiality clauses, especially in other law firms who would have liked to hire the lawyer.
“There are codes, like” not a team player “or” can not get along with the staff, “or” do not go to lunch with us every week, “says Levinson. There are all kinds of things that can be said to signal that a person is a troublemaker.”
Ribeiro then relies on our customers,” they know me and they know how I work and how I’m available. They have no doubt that I am not paid at my fair value.