Even law firms and attorneys are not immune to equal pay issues. Six lawyers from Jones Day have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging an array of gender discrimination claims against the law firm, including pay discrimination, sexual harassment, and stifled advancement.
Current plaintiffs and former employees Nilab Rahyar Tolton and Andrea Mazingo, in addition to four other employees who have chosen to remain anonymous, are seeking $200 million in damages from the international law firm. This is the second lawsuit filed against Jones Day. The first was filed in 2018 by former hiring partner Wendy Moore, who alleged the law firm harbored a fraternity-like work culture and practiced a “black box” compensation system.
“Jones Day’s ‘black box’ compensation system—which keeps attorney pay completely under wraps—facilitates gender-based pay discrimination,” the women claim in their lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.” reports Bloomberg Law. The most recent lawsuit alleges that evaluations of law associates and their compensation are “entirely subjective.”
The court complaint adds: “In Jones Day’s fraternity culture, male brotherhood is affirmed and strengthened by comments and conduct that derogate women, leaving female associates to choose between capitulation and exclusion.”
See the full lawsuit by clicking here.
The Bloomberg Law article notes that similar pay equity litigation has been an issue for several law firms: “Sanford Heisler Sharp, which represents the women suing Jones Day, has been at the vanguard of that legal campaign. The firm is litigating gender bias cases against Morrison & Foerster and Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart. It has settled claims against Proskauer Rose, Chadbourne & Parke (now Norton Rose Fulbright), and the now-defunct firm Sedgwick.”
The legal industry is not the only one taking fire for failing to adequately address pay equity issues with employees. Similar claims have been brought forward by former employees of organizations such as Riot Games, Google, and 2019 World Cup champions, the U.S. women’s soccer team, among many others.
Many states are passing legislation to protect organizations from perpetuating gender pay disparity by requiring wage transparency. Federal agencies are becoming more assertive as well. Recently the EEOC announced that organizations will have to report on pay data in the annual EEO-1 Report, starting this year. The pay data reporting in the EEO-1 Report may expose pay equity issues of organizations to the EEOC and to third-parties.
The time is now to address pay equity issues in the workplace. Organizations can get started by having a pay equity audit performed to identify pay equity issues now to prevent future regulatory and legal action.