Sanford Heisler Sharp Adds More Plaintiffs to Gender, Pregnancy & Maternity Discrimination Case Against Morrison & Foerster

Posted January 28th, 2019.

Three Additional Female Lawyers Join $100 Million Class Action Alleging The ‘Mommy Track’ Is A Dead End

Click here to read the amended complaint

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 28, 2019 — Attorneys at Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, late Friday filed an amended Complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California adding three plaintiffs to a class and collective action employment discrimination lawsuit against Morrison & Foerster (“MoFo”). The original $100 million complaint was filed April 30, 2018.

The suit alleges MoFo subjects its female attorneys to systematic gender discrimination, particularly women who are pregnant or have children. The plaintiffs are represented in the matter by Sanford Heisler Sharp attorneys across the U.S., including Chairman David Sanford, and Senior Litigation Counsel Aimee Krause Stewart in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore Managing Partner Deborah K. Marcuse; and California Managing Partner Ed Chapin and Of Counsel Jill Sullivan Sanford in San Diego.

“Female lawyers who have endured career-damaging discrimination at MoFo continue to come forward,” said Sanford. “The experiences of the three new plaintiffs echo and amplify those of the original three – the ‘mommy track’ at MoFo is a dead end.”

According to the amended filing, MoFo subjected the six women —named as Jane Does 1 through 6 – and other similarly-situated female lawyers at the firm to lower pay, delayed advancement, insufficient professional development opportunities, higher standards and limited access to meaningful work. The Amended Complaint adds new examples of gender discrimination that underscore the original three plaintiffs’ allegations.

Jane Doe 4 was eight months pregnant when she was told for the first time that she would not be progressing with her class. Along with notice of her abrupt termination, MoFo offered Jane Doe 4 a choice: sign a release of all claims in exchange for six months of pay. The Firm gave Jane Doe 4 less than two weeks to decide whether to give up her right to sue in exchange for the leave she had been counting on throughout her pregnancy. MoFo has threatened to file sanctions against Sanford Heisler Sharp for arguing that Jane Doe 4 should be permitted to file suit because she signed MoFo’s release under duress.

Jane Doe 5 was terminated six months after returning from parental leave following a high-risk pregnancy.

Jane Doe 6, marketed by the Firm as a superstar attorney, was nevertheless paid less than male associates junior to her and repeatedly denied promotion to the partnership after having taken several maternity leaves at the firm.

The claims of Jane Does 4 and 5 include wrongful termination; the claims of Jane Does 1, 4 and 6 include individual retaliation, which in the case of Plaintiff 6 followed her reporting to Human Resources and culminated in her constructive discharge.

“The material inequities for pregnant women and mothers that the Complaint lays out are bad enough,” said Stewart, “but the gaslighting, humiliation and impossible choices our plaintiffs describe are even more troubling.” Marcuse added, “No one should have to choose between losing her maternity leave and losing her right to fight back in court against discrimination. The idea that someone facing that choice when she is eight months pregnant with her first child is not under ‘duress’ is unfathomable to a reasonable person.”

The class and collective actions seek to represent all of MoFo’s female attorneys, as well as subclasses of these women who have been or will be employed by MoFo in the U.S. who have been or will be pregnant, have children, or take parental leave. The proposed nationwide and California classes seek all legal and equitable relief available under federal anti-discrimination, equal pay, and retaliation statutes, including monetary and injunctive relief to rectify MoFo’s discriminatory practices and policies and to ensure that, going forward, the firm abides by state and local laws that prohibit discrimination.

Sanford Heisler Sharp currently represents numerous female partners and lawyers seeking equity in compensation and leadership opportunities through litigation against major U.S. law firms. In addition to MoFo, the firm has cases pending in litigation against Ogletree Deakins. It has recently settled cases against Chadbourne & Parke, Proskauer Rose, Greenberg Traurig, and the now defunct Sedgwick.

About Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP is a public interest class-action litigation law firm with offices in New York; Washington, D.C; San Francisco; Nashville; San Diego; and Baltimore. Our attorneys have graduated from the nation’s top law schools, clerked for judges throughout the United States, and amassed extensive experience litigating and trying cases that have earned over one billion dollars for our clients.

The Firm specializes in civil rights and general public interest cases, representing plaintiffs with claims of employment discrimination, sexual violence, labor and wage violations, predatory lending, consumer fraud, and whistleblowing, among other claims. Along with a focus on class actions, the Firm also represents individuals and has achieved extraordinary success in the representation of executives and attorneys in employment disputes.

For more information go to www.sanfordheisler.com or call (202) 499-5200 or email dsanford@sanfordheisler.com. For the latest news, visit our newsroom or follow us on Twitter at @sanfordheisler.

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