MoFo Sex Bias Accuser Unmasks Herself As Linklaters Bigwig

Posted December 10th, 2019.

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By Braden Campbell

Law360 (December 10, 2019, 11:59 AM EST) — One of two previously unnamed women behind a proposed class action accusing Morrison & Foerster LLP of marginalizing moms identified herself Tuesday as prominent blockchain expert and current Linklaters U.S. fintech group leader Joshua Ashley Klayman.

Klayman, who was known as Jane Doe 6 before naming herself in a notice withdrawing her motion to proceed under a pseudonym Tuesday, alleges the firm pushed her out after reneging on promises to consider her for partnership because she took maternity leave. The suit accuses MoFo of similarly discriminating against a class comprising all its female attorneys.

The other unnamed woman revealed herself to be Sherry A. William, who is an associate in MoFo’s Los Angeles office, according to her bio on the firm’s website. William, who went by Jane Doe 1 in the current complaint, alleges the firm has tried to push her out since she went on maternity leave. Five other women involved in the suit recently dismissed their claims after settling with the firm.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley said in an April hearing that the Does would have to drop their pseudonyms “at some point” if they planned to press the suit. Klayman and William identified themselves “in light of this … stated position and [their] desire to proceed with this litigation,” they said Tuesday.

Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP, which represents Klayman and William, said Tuesday the attorneys are “are committed to vigorously prosecuting their individual and class claims of gender discrimination and maternity discrimination against Morrison & Foerster.”

Tuesday’s notice withdrawing the Does’ motion to proceed under pseudonyms marks a turning point in the $200 million blockbuster, which William filed in April 2018 with two of the Does who recently dropped their claims. Klayman and two others joined the suit in January, and a seventh woman joined in March. The suit accuses Morrison & Foerster of underpaying and denying opportunities to a nationwide class of female attorneys in violation of state and federal discrimination, wage and family leave law.

Klayman and William made detailed allegations against MoFo in a May amended complaint. Klayman, who left MoFo in 2018, alleges she was recruited to the firm with promises that she would be considered for partnership. But the promotion never materialized, and Klayman was forced out amid an escalating series of punishments tied to her taking maternity leave, she said.

Klayman was promoted to of counsel following a year in which she took “abbreviated maternity leave,” but was not paid on par with male colleagues, she claims. The firm refused to promote Klayman to partner despite her consistent strong performance, and retaliated against her for complaining about being passed over, including by tolerating open sexism toward her and undermining her ability to do her work, she said. The firm effectively fired her by forcing her to quit, she claims.

William makes similar claims against MoFo, alleging the firm derailed her career after she took maternity leave. She claims she was underpaid relative to male peers, subject to more scrutiny, and given little support in reaching the unrealistic expectations the firm set for her.

William is a senior associate and chairs MoFo’s working parents affinity group, her attorneys said Tuesday. Klayman’s bio on Linklaters’ website describes her as “one of the best-known blockchain and cryptocurrency lawyers in the U.S.”

A MoFo representative declined to comment Tuesday.

Klayman and William are represented by Deborah Marcuse, David Sanford, Ed Chapin, Jill Sullivan Sanford, Danielle Fuschetti, Hannah Wolf and Carolin Guentert of Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP.

Morrison & Foerster is represented by Catherine Conway, Michele Maryott, Rachel Brass, Amanda C. Machin and Daniel M. Bruggebrew of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

The case is Jane Doe 1 et al. v. Morrison & Foerster LLP, case number 3:18-cv-02542, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

–Editing by Marygrace Murphy.

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