Women in the Law

Major Canada Firm Must Produce Pay Info in Hard-Fought Sex Bias Case


One of Canada’s biggest law firms must soon produce a treasure trove of information about its salaries, billing rates and performance reviews, among other confidential information.

What is believed to be an unprecedented court order against McCarthy Tétrault requires the disclosure by Sept. 7, in response to a former associate’s sex discrimination suit. It contends that the 650-attorney partnership wrongfully denied her a partnership and systemically paid women lower salaries than comparably qualified men.

Diana LaCalamita says she left her former job at Aird & Berlis because the McCarthy firm recruited her in 2003 to help form a new intellectual property practice, promising her an equity or income partnership, reports Lawyers Weekly. But instead it took advantage of her specialized expertise while it “artificially restricted and isolated” her practice, she contends in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice suit.

The firm says LaCalamita, who has been unable to find another job as a lawyer, was terminated for cause, because she was unable to meet its standards, and denies that she was discriminated against.

Among the information that must be produced next month by McCarthys is an internal report by Catalyst Inc. concerning its investigation of gender issues at the firm. Catalyst is a consultant on feminist issues.

LaCalamita is represented by two big-name practitioners, constitutional lawyer Mary Eberts and Malcolm MacKillop of Shields O’Donnell MacKillop, a Toronto-based labor and employment boutique. She reportedly turned down a settlement offer of approximately $200,000 in order to pursue her claim for some $12 million in damages.

“We anticipate there will be further requests for disclosure,” MacKillop tells the legal publication, noting that he expects to seek information concerning sexual harassment claims and requests for pregnancy and maternity leaves.

McCarthys is represented by Terrence O’Sullivan of Lax O’Sullivan Scott, another Toronto firm. He describes LaCalamita’s requests for production as “excessive and overrreaching,” and notes that the smaller amount of material McCarthys is being required to produce is subject to a confidentiality order.

Hat tip: Am Law Daily.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Would-Be Partner’s $12M Suit Says Law Firm Discriminates Against Women”

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