Posted July 6th, 2012.
For more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, 201-493-1027, 201-788-0142 (cell); or Jaime Baum, newsPRos, 847-502-3825.
(July 6, 2012 New York, NY) – On MSLGroup’s website, the Company claims that U.S. District Court Judge Andrew L. Carter’s June 29, 2012 order granting conditional certification to the Company’s women VPs and SVPs “was a procedural ruling only and not unexpected” and that the Court had “made no decision as to whether the case may proceed as a class action.” But in a statement issued today, Janette Wipper, a partner at Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP, the plaintiffs’ lead counsel, strongly contested MSL’s characterization of Judge Carter’s certification decision.
“MSLGroup’s assertion on its website that the decision was ‘expected’ and simply ‘procedural’ differs from its lawyer’s statements in Court,” said Ms. Wipper. MSLGroup and Publicis Groupe consistently argued in their briefs that plaintiffs could not obtain conditional certification and that it would be ‘unprecedented’ for Judge Carter to order such relief. The very first line of the papers MSLGroup submitted to the Court on March 19, 2012, claims: ‘Plaintiffs ask this Court to make an unprecedented ruling….’ The papers go on to state that ‘federal courts have conditionally certified fewer than ten [Equal Pay Act] cases in nearly 50 years….’ They certainly conveyed to the Court that ordering certification would be an unexpected result with a significant impact on the lawsuit.” “Furthermore,” noted Ms. Wipper, “MSLGroup hired an MIT-educated expert in hopes of refuting Plaintiffs’ statistical evidence in support of conditional certification.”
In his written opinion, Judge Carter decided that plaintiffs had provided “sufficient information that because of a common pay scale, [plaintiffs] were paid lower than the wages paid to men for the performance of substantially equal work.” The Judge relied on the findings of plaintiffs’ statistical expert, Dr. Janice Madden, that female VPs and SVPs at Publicis Groupe were paid 8.5% to 11.2% less annually than male VPs and SVPs. The judge also stated he was ordering notice of conditional certification to be sent to over a hundred of the Company’s current and former female Vice Presidents and Senior Vice Presidents, so that they could join the class.
According to Steven Wittels, counsel for the plaintiffs and the class, MSL’s erroneous description of Judge Carter’s decision is no accident: “MSL is downplaying Judge Carter’s extremely important ruling in an attempt to chill participation in the lawsuit from women whose rights to equal pay and equal job treatment have been violated. MSL’s claims about Judge Carter’s ruling are simply further examples of the Company’s anti-female bias.”
The plaintiffs and the class are represented by Janette Wipper, Steven Wittels, Siham Nurhussein, and Deepika Bains of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP. In 2010, Sanford Wittels & Heisler settled the nation’s largest gender discrimination class action, after winning a $253 million verdict from a federal jury in New York.
About Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP
Sanford Wittels & Heisler is a law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco that specializes in employment discrimination, wage and hour, qui tam and consumer actions and complex corporate class action litigation and has represented thousands of individuals in major class action cases in the United States. The firm also represents individual clients in employment, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower, public accommodations, commercial, medical malpractice, and personal injury matters. In May 2010, the firm won the largest jury award in the U.S. in a gender discrimination employment class action when a jury returned a verdict of $253 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. In May 2012, SWH won final court approval to settle a wage and hour case on behalf of pharmaceutical representatives employed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals for $99 million. For more information, contact Sanford Wittels & Heisler at (415) 795-2020.