Third Partner Wants to Sue Chadbourne for Gender Bias

Posted February 28th, 2017.

As it appeared on Bloomberg Big Law Business

Gabe Friedman

Mary Yelenick, the onetime chair of Chadbourne & Parke’s products liability group, has asked to join two other women suing Chadbourne for gender discrimination, according to papers filed in federal court in Manhattan on Monday evening.

Yelenick is listed as of counsel on Chadbourne’s website, but was previously a partner and spent her entire career at the firm beginning in 1981.

The suit, originally filed in August by current partner Kerrie Campbell, accuses the firm and its management of underpaying female attorneys and violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and Equal Pay Act. Last October, Jaroslawa Johnson, a former partner who once managed the Warsaw office but is no longer with the firm, also joined the suit.

“During my employment, I believe Chadbourne paid me less than men who performed similar work,” Yelenick wrote in a court filing known as a consent to join form.

The filing did not detail any of Yelenick’s specific claims.

Yelenick’s online fingerprints include a March 25, 2016 letter to the editor published in The New York Times, titled “The Imprint of Racism.” In the letter, she wrote about “the indelible imprint on our daily realities of racism.”

Yelenick wrote:

For a white person to say he or she “doesn’t think about race” (which many whites view as reflecting an enlightened, “post-racial” attitude) is simply evidence of the privilege whites enjoy.

Minorities have to think about race every day. To the extent that white people (including me) fail to recognize, acknowledge, talk about and work to eliminate the manner in which our systems and society grant unearned advantage to whites, in every sphere, we will never be able to eradicate racism or its insidious effects.

In recent litigation, Yelenick has represented Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc., according to a docket search of Bloomberg Law. Other clients have included LG Electronics, Purdue Pharma and other companies.

The suit names Chadbourne & Parke, as well as management and some current and former partners, Marc Alpert, Andrew Giaccia, Abbe Lowell, Lawrence Rosenberg, Howard Seife and Paul Weber.

Big Law Business could not immediately reach attorneys or parties on either side.  

Chadbourne & Parke is preparing to merge into Norton Rose Fulbright in the second quarter of 2017. The Chadbourne name would disappear and newly formed firm entity would be called Norton Rose Fulbright and is expected to staff more than 4,000 lawyers in 58 offices spanning 32 countries, including more than 1,000 U.S. lawyers.

The New York Law Journal reported on Yelenick’s filing to join the suit and quoted Sanford as saying he has twice tried to settle with Chadbourne without success.

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