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Female Law Partner’s Gender Bias Suit Against Her Current Employer Raises Concerns of Pay Equality

Katherine Neff

Kerrie L. Campbell filed suit against her current employer, the law firm Chadbourne & Parke, alleging that she was shut out of leadership positions and paid far less than male partners at her level. According to Ms. Campbell, Chadbourne’s management committee, which determines the compensation for the firm’s partners, is made up of five men, who award male partners more points, which translate into higher dollar compensation, than they do to women. After complaining to the managing partner of pay inequaility, Ms. Campbell alleges that she was told her employment would end at the end of August and her pay was substantially reduced to that of an entry-level associate.
Other women have filed similar suits against their large law firm employers. Last month, Traci M. Ribeiro sued her firm Sedgwick, a large San Francisco based law firm, alleging that the “male-dominated culture” resulted in female lawyers being denied equal pay and equal promotions. Similarly, Kamee Verdrager’s case against her former employer Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsly and Popeo of Boston, is set for trial on her gender discrimination claims. Ms. Verdrager contends that the firm reduced her seniority by two years — which affected her level of pay — then later fired her.
In 2014, Sky Analytics, who provides spend management software to corporate legal departments, released its first ever gender study using actual billing records from law firms. The study, along with a National Association of Women Lawyers study on gender biases in the legal profession, highlighted the pay disparity between men and women. We blogged about these studies in 2014.
Hopefully the publicity surrounding these lawsuits, along with the 2014 studies on gender biases in the legal profession, will empower other women to continue coming forward and motivate law firms to cease their unequal billing practices.
Female Lawyer’s Gender-Bias Suit Challenges Law Firm Pay Practices by Elizabeth Olsonaug of The New York Times. Published August 31, 2016.

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NLRB Says Graduate Students Are Employees

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week the National Labor Relations Board held that graduate students who work as teaching or research assistants at private universities are employees and have the right to engage in collective bargaining. The Board found that the student assistants were employees where they “perform work, at the direction of the university, for which they are compensated.” It further held that, even though they were students as well, “statutory coverage is permitted by virtue of an employment relationship” and “is not foreclosed by the existence of some other, additional relationship that the Act does not reach.” Seems simple enough, but it isn’t. In fact, the Board has reversed itself on this issue several times in the last 16 years. The current Board says that the prior ruling holding that teaching and research assistants were not employees lacks any convincing justification for the ruling and deprives an entire category of workers of the protections afforded to employees. In the prior decision the Board said teaching and research assistants could not be employees because their primary relationship with the university was an educational one rather than an economic one.

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Judge Says $100 Million Not Fair And Reasonable To Settle Uber Class Action

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Last week federal Judge Edward Chen of the Northern District of California declined to approve a $100 million dollar settlement in a class-action suit by approximately 385 thousand Uber drivers. The Judge said that the amount was still not enough to be fair and reasonable. The Judge said drivers were potentially owed $700 million in mileage reimbursement, $122 million in tips, $2.4 million in overtime and $30 million in phone reimbursements. Attorneys for the drivers and Uber had agreed on the settlement. The risk for Uber in not settling is it could get hit with a big verdict at trial. There is risk for the drivers as well, however, aside from potentially losing at trial. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is reviewing the decision to certify the class of 385 thousand drivers. If that decision were to be overturned, nearly all of the drivers would have to pursue their claims individually in arbitration. When the same thing happened to Lyft in a similar lawsuit, it increased its proposal from $12.5 million to $27 million and that amount was approved by the judge overseeing that litigation. We’ll see what happens here.

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Randy Freking Invited to Roundtable Discussion with Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez

Freking Myers & Reul

UPDATE:  Live feed of the roundtable discussion will begin at 11:30 a.m.  Follow this link:

https://www.facebook.com/InnovationOhio/

On Wednesday, July 20, United States Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, will hold an open press round table discussion concerning local and national efforts to advance paid family leave. Secretary Perez will be joined by Ohio lawmakers, business owners, workers that are impacted by paid leave, and Randy Freking of Freking Myers & Reul.

The event will take place at Union Hall in Cincinnati (1311 Vine Street) from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

As a participant in the roundtable discussion, Randy will share his belief that paid family leave is good for business by recruiting and retaining outstanding employees. “The shame of the Family and Medical Leave Act is that it only provides 12 weeks of job protection and, worse, does not require that employees be paid during their medical leave. At our firm, we provide for paid leave of at least 90 days and it has resulted in an outstanding record of employee retention. It’s the right thing to do.”

RandyFreking2011-profile

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The EEOC’s Landmark Sexual Orientation Discrimination Settlement

Elizabeth Newman Law Clerk at Freking Myers & Reul

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Although this position has not always found support in court, the EEOC filed two lawsuits this spring to enforce its interpretation. Jon Allison blogged about it here.

Late last month, the EEOC settled one of these landmark cases. In EEOC v. Pallet Companies d/b/a IFCO Systems, the EEOC alleged that an employee was harassed by her supervisor because of her sexual orientation and that she was fired in retaliation for complaining to her employer. The settlement agreement requires the employer to pay $182,200 in damages to the employee, as well as $20,000 to the Human Rights Campaign.

According to EEOC General Counsel David Lopez, this settlement was the first resolution of a lawsuit challenging sexual orientation discrimination under Title VII. Even though a court did not weigh in on the matter, this historic settlement could indicate that the EEOC’s interpretation is gaining ground. The EEOC received 1,181 complaints of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation last year—a number almost certain to grow. The other lawsuit filed by the EEOC asserting sexual orientation discrimination is still pending in Pennsylvania.

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