Law Firms

Anonymous partner sues Proskauer for alleged gender bias

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An anonymous partner has filed a $50 million gender bias suit against Proskauer, the law firm that is defending Chadbourne & Parke in a discrimination lawsuit.

Sanford Heisler Sharp filed the federal suit (PDF) Friday on behalf of the unnamed Washington, D.C., partner, the Am Law Daily (sub. req.) reports. Sanford Heisler also represents female partners suing Chadbourne & Parke.

The Proskauer suit claims the plaintiff was among the hardest working and most productive equity partners at Proskauer, yet she was paid millions of dollars less than male partners who were similarly or less productive.

When she complained about her pay, the suit says, Proskauer retaliated by excluding the plaintiff from client development activities, damaging her client relationships, demeaning her to peers and clients, and barring her from partner meetings. She was also excluded from the firm retreat, according to the suit.

The suit also says the plaintiff “has been overtly objectified based on her sex.” Male partners commented on her “elegant” and “glamorous” appearance, and made inappropriate comments about her body, clothing and “sexiness,” the suit says.

The Am Law Daily notes that Proskauer lists two female partners in Washington, D.C., on its website. Neither responded to the publication’s request for comment.

Proskauer released a statement calling the suit “groundless” and the allegations an attempt “to squeeze a massive payout from our firm.”

The statement said the plaintiff has been among the highest-paid partners in her department, and her annual compensation increased substantially each year.

“In addition to being near the top of the pay scale for her area, she also received enormous financial and non-financial support from the firm to help her deal with a variety of personal and professional crises for which she sought our assistance,” the statement says. “She acknowledged that support on multiple occasions, including in a November 2016 email to the firm’s chair in which she said: ‘You were very caring and supportive during a period when I was facing serious personal challenges.’

“The plaintiff offered little complaint about her compensation until just a few months ago, when her business began to decline dramatically and she apparently became fearful that her compensation might be reduced. Instead of seeking to rebuild her practice, she sought to squeeze a massive payout from our firm in exchange for her rapid departure and an agreement not to weaponize her blatantly inaccurate charges.

“This action resulted only when we refused to capitulate to such questionable tactics.

“We will show that her complaint is riddled with situations that never occurred, statements that were never made and accusations contradicted by the facts.”

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