Case Type: Gender Discrimination
Law Firm: Proskauer Rose, LLP
Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, represents Proskauer partner Connie Bertram, head of the Firm’s Washington DC Labor & Employment practice and co-head of the Whistleblowing & Retaliation Group at Proskauer Rose, LLP, who is suing the prominent international law firm for $50 million for alleged gender bias in her compensation and other conditions of employment.
David Sanford, Chairman and Co-Founder of Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, is the lead attorney in this hotly contested matter filed in Washington, DC federal court. In May 2017, U.S. District Judge Ketanji B. Jackson allowed the plaintiff to pursue her claim against Proskauer under a “Jane Doe” pseudonym, even as Proskauer threatened to fire her for filing the suit.
According to the Complaint filed May 12, 2017, Proskauer has a serious gender discrimination problem it has repeatedly refused to address. Even by BigLaw standards, the number and proportion of female partners at Proskauer is very low, and even within the ranks of equity partners, substantial gender disparities persist. For example, Proskauer’s five highest paid male partners earn more than double the compensation paid to the law firm’s five highest paid female partners.
Although the Plaintiff has been among the hardest working and most productive partners since joining Proskauer, she has endured constant overt objectification by male partners, including Proskauer’s Chairman Joseph Leccese and one of its most prominent securities litigators Ralph C. Ferrara, based on her sex. Although she complained to Proskauer’s General Counsel Stephen Obus about the inappropriate gender-biased comments she and female summer associate candidates were subjected to, Proskauer took no action. In fact, Ferrara’s inappropriate conduct continues unabated.
Moreover, when the Plaintiff engaged in protected activity and complained that her pay was inequitable compared to her male peers, Proskauer retaliated against her, aggressively rebuking her, excluding her from client development activities and the firm’s leadership, treating her in a hostile manner, damaging her client relationships, isolating her from her peers and team members, demeaning her to her peers and clients, denying her access to almost all client files, refusing to assign work on client matters except those she originated, barring her from all partner meetings and functions, including the Firm retreat, and refusing to increase her pay to a level commensurate with her substantial contributions.
The Complaint details Proskauer’s violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 Amended by the Equal Pay Act of 1963; violation of the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993; two violations of the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act; violation of the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act; two violations of the Maryland Equal Pay for Equal Work Law; Breach of Fiduciary Duty; Breach of Contract/Breach of the Implied Covenant of Faith and Fair Dealing; Fraudulent Misrepresentation; and Unjust Enrichment.
The Plaintiff seeks back pay, front pay, lost benefits, liquidated damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and other damages available under law; an award of all pre-judgment interest and post-judgment interest available; all litigation costs and expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees; a judgment in excess of $50 million; and any other and further relief the Court finds just and proper.