Labor & Employment

Don't speak for us, women Chadbourne partners tell lawyer behind sex discrimination case

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Some women partners at Chadbourne & Parke say that they want no part of a recent sex discrimination lawsuit seeking class-action status against the firm.

The letter was sent Monday to David W. Sanford, the plaintiffs lawyer who filed the case, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports. Kerrie Campbell, his client, claims that Chadbourne’s all-male management committee routinely made compensation decisions that hurt women, and a male-dominated culture has caused women lawyers to leave the firm. The action (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of 26 women partners the firm has had since 2013.

“Your complaint claims that it must speak for us because we are too afraid to speak for ourselves. That is not how we see ourselves and certainly not how any of us believes our clients and colleagues perceive us,” reads the letter (PDF), which was signed by 14 women. “To proceed in this manner, given your obvious awareness of the identity of the women allegedly represented by the purported class action, is no less patronizing and patriarchal than what you accuse our male colleagues of having done.”

It goes on to accuse Sanford seeking class action status both to inflate damages and get press attention.

Sanford told the Wall Street Journal that since the case was filed last month he’s heard from other women at Chadbourne, and the complaint will be amended in October.

Sanford said that it was “interesting to note” that none of the women who signed the letter attempted to challenge the lawsuit’s allegations. He called people who write such declarations “‘happy campers,’” who are often motivated to “keep in good standing with the powers that be.”

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