Sanford Heisler Sharp Files $200+ Million Class and Collective Action Against Jones Day

Posted April 3rd, 2019.

Six Female Plaintiffs Detail How “Black Box” Pay and Managing Partner Autocracy Lead to Systemic Gender, Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination

Click here to read the complaint

April 3, 2019 WASHINGTON, DC – Attorneys from Sanford Heisler Sharp today filed a $200,000,000+ gender, pregnancy, and maternity discrimination class and collective action in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Jones Day.

The six plaintiffs – Nilab Rahyar Tolton, Andrea Mazingo, and Jane Does 1 through 4 – allege Jones Day is a fraternity led by one man. The Complaint details how Jones Day’s culture harms female associates in compensation and partnership decisions. The women are represented in the matter by David W. Sanford, Chairman of Sanford Heisler Sharp; Deborah K. Marcuse, Baltimore Managing Partner; and Russell L. Kornblith, New York Managing Partner.

“The Complaint chronicles how male senior partners give the best work to male associates, who earn more and are promoted more rapidly, and how female lawyers’ work is regularly undervalued,” said Marcuse.

The Complaint alleges that women who become pregnant and have children are assumed to be uncommitted to their work. For Plaintiff Tolton, all it took was asking a question about Firm policies relating to maternity leave to transform her reputation from that of a Harvard Law superstar to a problem child. When, the next year, she became pregnant herself and went out on leave, she returned to a salary freeze, unsubstantiated negative reviews, and diminished work opportunities. When she returned from a second leave, she was promptly told to look for a new job.

Plaintiff Mazingo worked tirelessly for Jones Day at great personal cost, but, as the Complaint recounts, she was denied mentorship opportunities, sexually harassed, and subjected to verbal abuse by a male partner when she was forced to take a weekend off for health reasons. Frozen out by that partner, the principal partner with whom she had worked, and deprived of any mentoring support to advance to partnership herself, Ms. Mazingo was forced to leave the Firm.

The Complaint also includes detailed allegations of gender discrimination and retaliation from four other former Jones Day associates who are seeking to proceed under pseudonyms.

Kornblith noted, “Jones Day proudly touts that it is not like its peer firms, because it does not pay its associates in lockstep. However, plaintiffs allege that this ‘black box’ compensation system masks gender discrimination in pay. It is time for Jones Day to open the black box and implement full pay transparency.”

The Complaint includes class allegations under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, with the Rule 23 class comprising all female associates who are, have been or will be employed by Jones Day in the U.S. during the applicable liability period until the date of judgment. Plaintiffs bring class claims of gender discrimination on behalf of a nationwide class under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, the latter of which applies to allegedly discriminatory decisions made by Jones Day’s all-powerful Managing Partner, Stephen J. Brogan.

Plaintiffs also bring collective action claims under the federal Equal Pay Act and class claims on behalf of female Jones Day associates in California under, inter alia, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act; the California Family Rights Act; the California Equal Pay Act, as amended by the California Fair Pay Act; the California Business and Professions Code; and the California Private Attorneys General Act of 2004.

Since 2016, Sanford Heisler Sharp has represented female attorneys at more than twenty U.S. law firms who experienced career-crushing gender discrimination, shining a bright light on the dark employment practices that have historically prevented women from attaining compensation and leadership roles comparable to men throughout the legal profession.

For more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, 646-791-4848, [email protected]