Law Firms

Judge refuses to sanction women suing Jones Day for gender bias

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A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has refused to sanction former female associates who filed a $200 million lawsuit against Jones Day for alleged gender bias.

Jones Day had alleged that the plaintiffs made up pay-bias claims “out of whole cloth” and made incorrect assumptions that it paid a “Cravath base” throughout all of its offices. The law firm said the women brought pay-bias claims without factual basis or investigation, while ignoring evidence that undermined those claims.

U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss denied Jones Day’s request, saying in a June 9 minute order that he “does not yet know enough about the relevant facts to determine whether plaintiffs’ allegations are so baseless that sanctions are warranted.”

The National Law Journal, Law360 and Bloomberg Law have coverage.

Moss said the women had difficulty obtaining information about pay because of an alleged pay secrecy policy and a lack of access to data. It would be premature to rule on the veracity of the plaintiffs’ assertions in deciding a sanctions request before an opportunity to conduct discovery, Moss said.

“To the extent that Jones Day argues that plaintiffs failed adequately to investigate their claims before initiating this lawsuit, the court is unconvinced,” Moss said.

“Rule 11 is intended to deter and to punish litigation abuses. It is not a means of obtaining an early resolution of the merits of a dispute,” Moss added.

Moss tossed some of the lawsuit claims May 19 but allowed claims that Jones Day’s secretive “black box” compensation system and subjective evaluations had a disparate impact on female associates.

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