Law Firms

Wigdor blasts DLA Piper's use of confidential arbitration in case of associate fired after seeking maternity leave

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The Wigdor law firm is criticizing DLA Piper for using confidential, forced arbitration to decide the case of an associate fired after seeking maternity leave.

Wigdor represents former intellectual property associate Anisha Mehta, who alleged in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge of discrimination that she was fired in October 2022, six days after submitting paperwork for paid maternity leave. Mehta was told that she was fired for her performance, but that wasn’t the “real motive” for her firing, the December 2022 charge alleges.

Mehta was fired because DLA Piper was experiencing pressure from clients to lower billing rates and was receiving less billable work, according to the EEOC charge released by Wigdor on March 14.

“The last thing DLA wanted to do was pay a seventh-year associate salary for 18 [to] 20 weeks when that lawyer would not be working,” the EEOC charge said.

Mehta’s supervisor had cited two “minor mistakes” as the reason for the firing, but they were “contrived excuses,” Mehta alleges.

Mehta says her work “was so exemplary” that DLA Piper increased her base salary by 21% in a six-month period and gave her a year-end bonus amounting to 30% of her base salary in 2021.

Wigdor partner Jeanne Christensen released this statement about the case: “We look forward to holding DLA Piper accountable for its blatant gender discrimination as alleged on behalf of our client whose stellar legal career and advancement has been stymied by the mega-firm’s allegiance to profits over gender parity. DLA Piper should do what is right for all of its female employees and litigate these claims in federal court where they belong, rather than confidential arbitration.”

DLA Piper is represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Michele Maryott. She told Reuters, Law360 and that the firm “looks forward to having the EEOC charge reviewed in the normal course.”

“DLA Piper has a generous leave policy and a great track record of supporting working parents,” Maryott said.

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