Law Firms

Lawyer Sues for Unpaid Bonuses After Big Wal-Mart Verdict

A lawyer who once worked for a San Francisco law firm that won a $172 million award against Wal-Mart claims in a lawsuit that she was never paid promised bonuses.

Carolyn Burton claims in her suit against her former boss, Fred Furth, that she accepted a below-market salary with the understanding that she would earn bonuses of 3 percent to 5 percent of annual profits, the Recorder reports. But she usually earned only a small bonus or none at all.

The suit contends Furth sometimes billed personal expenses to the firm to keep profits low, the legal publication says. She had planned to leave the firm, but agreed to stay on after the Wal-Mart verdict when the firm’s then-managing partner promised her $1 million for every $20 million in firm profits, the suit says. The Wal-Mart verdict, obtained in a suit that claimed employees weren’t paid for meal breaks, is still on appeal.

Soon after the $1 million promise, Burton claims, Furth began a “campaign of public humiliation” that accused her of mismanagement of a federal class action in which she served as co-counsel. She was fired in November 2006.

The firm’s current managing partner, Henry Cirillo, refused to comment. “We’ll just let this matter be resolved through the courts,” he said.

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