Jones Day Gender Discrimination Case Only Gets Bigger

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Recent news in the Jones Day gender discrimination indicates the case will only get bigger as a former New York associate came forward. The lawsuit filed by former Jones Day associates has now spread to New York. The original suit was filed by two plaintiffs and four anonymous Jane Doe plaintiffs. The plaintiffs alleged that Jones Day supported a “fraternity culture” and that their “black box” compensation system resulted in women receiving significantly lower pay than male counterparts. Jessica Jardine Wilkes previously spent time working at the Jones Day Menlo Park, California office and joined the suit a few weeks ago. More recently, Katrina Henderson joined the suit.

Henderson is the latest former Jones Day associate to come forward and the first to come forward after working for a Jones Day office in New York. She spent over two years working for Jones Day before leaving for a job in-house. She appears to have been employed by the firm’s New York office from October 2013 through July 2016. At that point, she joined Pixar Animation Studios starting August 2016. She recently moved from Pixar to Amazon Studios in Santa Monica, California.

The parties continue to argue over whether or not the Jane Doe plaintiffs should be allowed to retain their anonymity. The firm insists the plaintiffs should reveal their names, but the plaintiffs assert they should maintain anonymity for the duration of the litigation. One plaintiff compared her situation to that of a whistleblower.

If you have are experiencing gender discrimination on the job or if you need to file California gender discrimination lawsuit, please get in touch with the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP so we can help. With numerous locations, including our San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, and Chicago employment law offices, we have the resources, the knowledge, and the experience to successfully advocate for workers and protect you from labor law violations.

Did Misclassifying Drivers as Contractors Save Uber $500M?

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In recent news, a lawsuit claims that the popular ridesharing firm, Uber, saved more than $500 million by misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors. The California class action seeks justice in response to Uber allegedly ignoring a previous ruling issued earlier in the year.

The class action lawsuit was brought to California federal courts on behalf of local business, Diva’s Limousine. The suit alleges that Uber unfairly stole business from traditional taxi service-based companies by using deceitful methods and unethical tactics that purposefully skirted around the law. According to the complaint, Uber low-balled drivers’ wages in order to increase the company’s profit margin through misclassification of drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

The plaintiff claims that these deceitful methods/tactics are a workaround that goes against the ruling issued previously this year by the California Supreme Court in the case Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court. The plaintiff also claims that by ignoring the previous ruling to misclassifying drivers, Uber stands to avoid payment of approximately $9.07 per hour in expenses/benefits to their drivers (i.e. minimum wage, mandated breaks, unemployment compensation, social security, Medicare, etc.)

Uber employees across the world have been fighting this particular battle and it has not been an easy fight. Late in 2017 a London tribunal classified drivers as employees. This directly conflicted with rulings in US courts where the opposite was believed to be true. Uber is currently appealing a lawsuit in Brazil resulting in similar findings. A Philadelphia courtroom ruled earlier this year that the provisions under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act prevented UberBlack drivers from being classified as employees. This was the first ruling of its kind; classifying Uber drivers as non-employees under federal law.

If you have questions about misclassification or if you have been misclassified by your employer, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Scope of Gender-Discrimination Lawsuit Against Salk Limited by Judge

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In recent news, a California judge limited the scope of a gender-discrimination lawsuit filed against by Salk Institute for Biological Studies by cancer researcher, Beverly Emerson, by throwing out a retaliation claim. The judge dismissed the claim on August 30, 2018.

The claim was made by molecular biologist Beverly Emerson. She claimed that the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California purposefully let her contract expire in December 2017 because she filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit. (The gender-discrimination lawsuit was filed by Emerson in July of that same year).

A key piece of evidence for Emerson’s retaliation claim was an email from the institute’s former president, Elizabeth Blackburn. In the email Blackburn suggested the litigation could hurt Emerson’s career, but the court ruled this email as confidential material that should not be presented before jurors. Emerson alleges gender-discrimination based on systemic bias at Salk that resulted in limited pay, limited professional advancement, and limited access to resources and funding for research.

In the course of the August 17th hearing in San Diego, California, the Salk Institute’s legal counsel argued that most of the cited events that occurred during Emerson’s 30 years at the institute happened too long ago to be included in the suit (i.e. a delayed promotion). According to California state law people have only one year to file a lawsuit including charges of gender discrimination after an event or incident occurs, unless they have proof to present that the gender discrimination was a continuing occurrence.

Emerson’s legal counsel responded with instances that illustrated just such a pattern of recurring gender bias. Judge Eddie Sturgeon noted that when viewing the evidence as a whole, the court “cannot conclude as a matter of law that there is no continuing violation.” Emerson’s gender-discrimination suit is scheduled for trial on December 7th.  

If you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace or if you have questions about workplace discrimination, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Nike Faces Lawsuit Alleging Systemic Gender Discrimination

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Two women formerly employed by Nike claim in a recently filed lawsuit that women are devalued and demeaned by the company through systemic gender discrimination. The two former employees, Kelly Cahill and Sara Johnston, claim that they were paid significantly less than male co-workers for similar work and that they were also passed up for promotions due to their gender. The suit was originally filed in Nike’s home state of Oregon by the two former employees seeking class action status. The federal suit alleges that Nike violated the Equal Pay Act.

The plaintiffs want the court to order the company to institute new policies that would alter the way the company treats women, providing equal opportunity for employees regardless of their gender and combatting the negative effects of their current (and past) unlawful employment practices. The plaintiffs also seek reinstatement at Nike and back pay.

The spokesperson for Nike cited Nike’s long-standing commitment to inclusion and diversity and claimed that the company opposes any type of discrimination. She also went on to say that Nike is committed to competitive pay and benefits for all employees. She declined to answer specific questions about the lawsuit.

Plaintiffs point to respected news sites in their complaints (The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times) as having described Nike’s culture as allowing gender bias and sexual harassment. Additionally, is has been reported that the CEO, Mark Parker, apologized to employees at the company over the handling of workplace misconduct allegations and 11 or more executives have left the company in the last several months. Other changes happening at Nike that could be related to the current legal trouble is that Nike announced pay increases for 7,000 employees last month. The company described the move as an attempt to support a culture where employees can feel included and empowered.

According to the Suit, Cahill was a former Nike producer and director from 2013 to 2017. She left the company due to a “hostile work environment” and ineffective handling of complaints to HR. She also alleges that she was paid $20,000 less than a male co-worker with similar job duties. Cahill also claims that a former Nike vice president used derogatory names to refer to women and singled out a female employee for overly harsh criticism by yelling at her repeatedly in public.

Complaints were allegedly filed to HR about the employee by Cahill and other women at Nike, but the Nike vice president was promoted in 2017. According to reporters at The Wall Street Journal, he was forced to leave the company in April.

Johnston, the second plaintiff, was employed by Nike from 2008 to 2017. She alleges that she received inappropriate sexual messages and nude photos of himself by a male co-worker after a Nike-organized party. After telling him to stop sending her messages that were not related to work, he continued to send inappropriate messages and photos. He also later started to refuse to attend meetings that she organized at work. The harassment was reported to Johnston’s supervisors, but the response she received from one of the supervisors was that the Nike culture revolved around alcohol and that the rise of the internet and cell phones have simply make drunk messages of that nature a part of the current generation. Johnston complained to HR about the situation, but the male co-worker was shortly after promoted to a management position that required her to work closely with him. She claims she was denied higher ratings on her annual review in retaliation for her response to the situation and her complaints of sexual harassment. Johnston also alleges that her starting salary was $2,000 less than a male co-worker for the same job. She claims she had more relevant work experience and superior credentials and even helped train him on the job.

If you are experiencing discrimination in the workplace or workplace retaliation for reporting violations, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Morrison & Foerster Faces $100M Pregnancy Bias Lawsuit

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Three associates out of California allege that Morrison & Foerster LLP delays payment and promotion opportunities to female attorneys that schedule maternity leave or use the working mother benefits provided by the firm. The $100 million proposed class action was filed in May 2018. According to citations online, claims are based on the allegation that the firm has an “old boys’ club” culture (Law360).

The three associates sued under a pseudonym (J. Doe) in San Francisco federal court. The plaintiffs claim that expected promotions and pay increases were held at bay when they took (and returned from) maternity leave yet the attorneys’ hourly billing rates were increased as they would be if they received the expected promotion.

Other claims include:

·      Male attorneys and female attorneys who are not pregnant/have no children are offered more access to partners and mentoring allowing them to stay on track for partnership.

·      The practice noted above means that women are vastly underrepresented amongst senior levels at the firm.

·      Standard procedure at the firm when an associate is pregnant is to hold her back from advancement with her peers and deny opportunities for progression and/or pay increases.

·      The firm is aware of the problems and has not taken the necessary remedial measures to current problems or prevent future infractions.  

Each of the three associates that filed the complaint work at one of Morrison & Foerster LLP’s California offices, but the firm has four California locations and the document did not specify which one employed the women.

The firm does offer a number of benefits and programs that are designed to improve the situation for working mothers: parental leave, adoption leave, parental transition time upon returning from leave, backup caregiving, flexible work options, a reduced hours program, etc. The existence of the various programs seems to support and encourage female employees to take up to six months off for maternity leave.

In reality, the associates claim that women who take advantage of maternity leave or are working mothers advance through the firm’s ranks at a significantly slower rate than their peers. They are also paid less than the male associates.

If you have questions about pregnancy bias in the workplace or if you have experienced gender discrimination on the job, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.