Sedgwick Discrimination Class Action

Case name: Ribeiro, et al. v. Sedgwick LLP

Case type: Gender Discrimination

Filed in: [U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California]

Docket: [Case No.: 3:16-cv-04507]

Case Summary

In January 2017, after becoming lead counsel, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed an Amended Complaint in arbitration on behalf of Traci M. Ribeiro and a class of female attorneys at San Francisco-based BigLaw firm Sedgwick, alleging systemic pay and promotion discrimination in violation of Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, and analogous state laws.

The Amended Complaint sought $200 million in damages on behalf of the class and added new allegations of discrimination and retaliation involving Sedgwick’s male-dominated leadership and opaque compensation and promotion policies that produced stark disparities for female attorneys throughout the firm. The Amended Complaint refined the original class to include California and Illinois subclasses and added a claim that Sedgwick’s systemic discrimination against the California class unjustly enriched the firm, in violation of the California Unfair Competition Law.

According to the Amended Complaint, Sedgwick not only promoted men at higher rates than women but also maintained a lower bar for male promotions, given that men were promoted with less experience and less business. At the same time, these men were given substantial leadership positions throughout the Firm.

Ms. Ribeiro, a Chicago-based attorney at Sedgwick, had been one of the law firm’s top performers since joining Sedgwick in 2011 but was passed over for promotion to equity Partner repeatedly in favor of less-qualified men, each of whom generated revenue that was a fraction of her own, the Amended Complaint alleged. Ms. Ribeiro also claimed she had been paid substantially less as a percentage of her revenues than male partners and less than she would have earned were she an equity Partner. Ms. Ribeiro also alleged she had faced retaliation for her efforts to obtain gender equity for herself and other women at the firm.

In May 2017, the matter was concluded.

Procedural History