In-House Counsel

Suit by former in-house lawyer claims Broadcom executives 'degrade and objectify women'

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A laid-off in-house lawyer at Broadcom claims in a gender bias lawsuit (PDF) that Broadcom has a “pervasive male-preferential paradigm” that has led to barriers to advancement and a male-dominated workforce.

The suit by Jennifer Davies, filed earlier this month in California federal court, says she was denied a promotion to vice president, though she was highly qualified; she earned less than similarly situated male employees; she was subjected to a hostile work environment; and she was viewed as having too many female characteristics. The Recorder (sub. req.) has a story.

Davies says she was subjected to a hostile work environment when, for example, she was among female employees who had to “sashay for the entertainment of male employees” during a business meeting in Asia. During the incident, “the men whistled and laughed at the women as they complied with their instruction to sway their hips down the imaginary catwalk,” the complaint says. Davies was also once compared to a “kitten with a ball of yarn,” according to the suit.

Broadcom “unapologetically maintains a ‘boys club’ where male employees and executives degrade and objectify women without recourse and where the company has imposed institutional barriers to advancement for female employees,” the suit alleges.

Portions of the complaint were blacked out at the request of Broadcom, which maintains it is protected by a confidentiality agreement, according to a footnote in the complaint. The complaint asserts that the “death knell” for Davies’ career at Broadcom came when she uncovered and reported some kind of problem, the details of which were blacked out.

Broadcom is represented by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which has filed motions to dismiss and to compel arbitration, the Recorder says. The law firm successfully represented venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in a sex-bias suit by Ellen Pao.

Orrick partner Lynne Hermle told the Recorder that Broadcom plans a vigorous defense. “To my understanding,” Hermle told the publication, “the plaintiff was laid off in a very large layoff, and raised no discrimination complaints before she was terminated.”

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