Posted May 31st, 2019.
By Emma Cueto
Law360 (May 31, 2019, 2:37 PM EDT) — A D.C. federal judge has ruled that four of the former associates in a $200 million gender discrimination suit against Jones Day can proceed anonymously in the suit for now, although the judge added that the firm can disclose their names only as part of the process of investigating the claims.
U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss said in a minute order on Thursday that the Jane Doe plaintiffs, who make up four of the six women bringing the suit, will need to provide additional evidence to show they need to proceed anonymously, but that they can continue using pseudonyms for now.
The Does won an initial court order letting them proceed anonymously on April 3, the same day they filed the nationwide class action accusing Jones Day of shuttling men up the firm’s ladder while stifling women on pay and promotions. The Does, who claim Jones Day fired them or forced them out, are suing the firm alongside named plaintiffs Nilab Rahyar Tolton and Andrea Mazingo.
Tolton, who was an associate at Jones Day for eight years, alleges that she was often the subject of sexist comments and misogynistic behavior from male superiors that included her being mocked for facial expressions that men she worked with deemed too “stoic.”
She claims that she was told she had six months to find a new job after returning from her second maternity leave.
In Mazingo’s case, she alleges she was underpaid in comparison to male associates and was denied mentorship opportunities despite her repeated requests. She was also allegedly subjected to “unwanted sexual attention” from male partners and regularly had to deal with comments about her clothes and appearance.
She was eventually forced to leave the firm after being publicly berated and later cut off by her supervising partner for the way she took medical leave one weekend, the complaint says.
Jones Day asked the D.C. district court on May 20 to make the women comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(a), which directs that federal court pleadings name the involved parties. The firm said maintaining the Does’ anonymity has hampered its defense because it can’t question witnesses about their claims and that unmasking them won’t cause the dire harm the Does claim.
In a response later that week, the women called the request “astonishing,” saying that revealing their names would threaten their livelihoods and reputations and implying the firm was hypocritical for its “newfound interest in transparency” after trying to seal another gender discrimination complaint against the firm in California.
They also said that the firm knows their names and has disclosed that information to “at least 100 people.”
Jones Day then hit back that the women had not provided any evidence to back up their claims that revealing their names would be harmful.
Counsel for both parties did not respond Friday to a request for comment.
The plaintiffs are represented by Deborah K. Marcuse, David W. Sanford and Russell L. Kornblith of Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP.
Jones Day is represented by Mary Ellen Powers and Terri L. Chase of Jones Day.
The case is Tolton et al. v. Jones Day, case number 1:19-cv-00945, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
–Additional reporting by Braden Campbell, Vin Gurrieri, Hailey Konnath and Matthew Guarnaccia. Editing by Abbie Sarfo.