A class action filed in California state court by a former Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. shareholder claims the defense firm’s female attorneys receive lower pay and fewer advancement opportunities as compared to male employees.
A proposed class action has been filed in California state court by a former Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. shareholder who claims the defense firm’s female attorneys are discriminated against and consequently receive lower pay and fewer advancement opportunities as compared to male employees.
The alleged discrimination, according to the lawsuit, stems from leadership “dominated by male decision makers,” some of whom are named as defendants in the suit, who apparently implement policies and practices that favor male attorneys. From the complaint:
“The development of the Firm’s common policies and practices of discrimination was an effort coordinated by Ogletree’s male leadership, and implemented through the funneling of business opportunities, credits, and authority to male shareholders. As a result, Ogletree’s female attorneys earn less compensation for performing equivalent work.”
The lawsuit explains that Ogletree frequently rewards men for cases on which “the bulk of the actual legal work” is performed by female attorneys. While male shareholders are permitted to pursue pitch meetings, conferences, and other highly rewarded business development efforts, female shareholders, the case says, are disproportionately assigned to “housekeeping duties,” such as administrative tasks, office management, and training that does not affect their compensation.
Further, the case claims Ogletree frequently promotes unqualified male attorneys to equity shareholder status and refuses to promote female attorneys who consistently exceed the criteria for promotion. Female shareholders, on average, were paid approximately $110,000 less than male shareholders in 2017 target compensation and bonuses, the complaint alleges.
As for the plaintiff, the lawsuit claims the woman was fired in retaliation for speaking up about the alleged pay disparity and advocating for female attorneys who complained about discrimination and sexual harassment at one of the firm’s San Diego offices. Ogletree, the case says, launched a “sham investigation” against the plaintiff over a conflict of interest as a mere pretext for terminating her. According to the lawsuit, the firm sought to fire the woman before she could file suit against it or join another female shareholder’s proposed class action that was filed in January 2018 over similar allegations.