Law Firms

Suit claims WilmerHale fired counsel for taking adoption leave

A former litigation counsel at WilmerHale claims in a lawsuit that the law firm wrongfully fired her after taking leave for the adoption of a 22-month-old daughter from China.

The $5 million suit (PDF) filed in Washington, D.C., superior court by Pamela Levinson claims violations of the District’s family leave and human rights laws, according to a press release (PDF). The law firm fired Levinson in February 2012, the suit alleges, “because she exercised her right to take protected adoption leave and because of her gender, age and family responsibilities.”

Levinson was 45 years old when she moved to WilmerHale as a fourth-year associate in 2004. She was promoted to counsel in 2008, according to the press release. Though all three reviewing partners recommended promotion to special counsel in 2009, the firm informed Levinson her long term prospects were limited, froze her base salary and gave her no bonus money, the suit says.

She was fired after taking adoption leave in 2011. At about the same time, the suit states, Levinson learned the firm did not make a profit-sharing contribution to her 401(k) retirement for two prior years, an alleged violation of the retirement plan agreement.

Levinson had graduated first in her class at the University of Miami Law School in 2001. Before joining WilmerHale she had clerked for a federal judge and worked as an associate at Akerman Senterfitt. Levinson is represented by the law firm Sanford Heisler.

WilmerHale’s co-managing partner Susan Murley issued this statement in response to the suit: “Ms. Levinson’s claims are completely without merit and we will vigorously defend the firm.”

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