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Labor & Employment

Suit contends law firm barred female and male lawyers from being alone together

Posted Apr 11, 2013 7:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Dallas lawyer claims in a lawsuit that her law firm undermined her work opportunities with a policy that barred female and male lawyers from being alone together, at work or outside the workplace.

The suit by Kimberly Elkjer says her firm, Scheef & Stone, changed its policies a few years ago, but the effects persist, report Courthouse News Service and AOL Jobs. The Dallas office remains “largely segregated,” the suit says.

"Scheef & Stone LLP has fostered a culture that generally encourages sex-based stereotypes, impedes female attorneys' ability to develop professional relationships with male attorneys at the firm, promotes greater income and business opportunities for male attorneys at the firm as compared to female attorneys at the firm, and undermines female attorneys' perceived and actual ability to perform work,” the suit alleges.

Females who want greater opportunities at the firm must "accept the firm's marginalization of female attorneys” and conform to stereotypes, according to the complaint. The suit claims a violation of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.

Scheef & Stone said in a statement that there is no evidence to support Elkjer’s claims. "In fact,” the statement said, “objective evidence and our business records will clearly show that Ms. Elkjer disagrees with legitimate business decisions based on objective nondiscriminatory criteria by the firm's management that have nothing to do with gender and apply to all attorneys in the firm."

"No other female attorneys at the firm supports Ms. Elkjer's false claims,” the statement said. “We are fully prepared to defend this case."

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