Sedgwick Partner Sued Firm: Gender Bias Case Nears Settlement

Traci Ribeiro, a nonequity partner from Sedgwick LLP’s Chicago office, sued the firm alleging that she and other female lawyers at the firm were being short-changed. Recent updates in the case indicate they may be nearing a settlement deal. Ribeiro first proposed class action citing accusations that the firm’s all-male leadership team routinely denies female attorneys equal pay and opportunities for promotion. Within her complaint, Ribeiro described Sedgwick LLP as a male-dominated culture utilizing systemic gender discrimination.

Definition of Gender Bias: Unequal treatment, particularly in relation to an employment opportunity, such as promotion, benefits, work privileges, pay rate, expected job duties, etc. When differences in these employment opportunities are based on the sex of an employee or a group of employees, this is referred to as gender bias. Gender bias in the workplace, during the application process, as a reason for termination, etc. can be a legitimate basis for a lawsuit in accordance with anti-discrimination statues.

Ribeiro’s allegations continued, claiming that she had not advanced to equity partner even though she was just as qualified and just as accomplished as male attorneys at the firm. In addition, she cited multiple examples of female attorneys that were being paid less than males in equal positions at Sedgwick LLP.

Due to terms included in an alternative dispute resolution provision in the firm partnership agreement, Sedgwick quickly moved the suit to federal court and then arbitration. U.S. District Judge William Alsup indicated in November, 2016 that two things must be determined: 1) whether or not the dispute is arbitrable, and 2) if Ribeiro’s 1012 partnership agreement’s arbitration clause can be enforced.

The parties submitted a joint report noting that they had conducted a meeting April 4th, 2017 with a mediator in an attempt to reach a provisional settlement. Having successfully done so, they executed a memorandum of understanding in anticipation of a full settlement executed in short order. Ribeiro also amended her complaint.

If you have questions regarding gender bias, or how to react to gender bias in the workplace, please get in touch with an experienced California employment law attorney at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik as soon as possible.