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Former Partner's Bias and Retaliation Claims Against Irell Must Go to Arbitration, Judge Rules

A former partner at Irell & Manella who once headed its entertainment practice will have to take her bias claims to arbitration, a California judge has ruled.

Juliette Youngblood had claimed in a lawsuit that the firm cut her pay because of lost hours during maternity leave and retaliated against her for complaining about a partner’s inappropriate remarks at a happy hour event. In a ruling last week, Judge Amy Hogue said Youngblood’s claims must be arbitrated under the terms of the firm’s partnership agreement, the Am Law Daily reports.

Youngblood won on a few points, however. Hogue ruled that some aspects of the partnership agreement were unconscionable and ordered them severed for purposes of the dispute, the story says. One barred punitive damages. Another barred Youngblood from disclosing the controversy or the arbitration. A third allowed Irell to select all the members of the arbitration panel based on the firm’s prior experiences. The Am Law Daily posted the decision (PDF).

Hogue said Youngblood had to sign the partnership agreement to become a partner in 1997, but she didn’t get a copy. Instead, the firm presented her only with the signature page.

Prior coverage: “Irell Says Hollywood Dreams, Rather than Bias, Spurred Former Partner to Leave” “Ex-Partner Sues Irell & Manella, Says She Was Forced to Leave for Complaining re Partner’s Conduct”

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