Jones Day Gets Slapped With Gender-Bias Suit

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 05, 2019 | Last updated on June 11, 2019

In a $200 million lawsuit, attorneys from an international law firm have sued their former employer for gender-bias.

Jones Day, they allege, discriminated against them based on gender, pregnancy, and maternity. They say the firm has a "misogynistic," "fraternity culture."

At a firm party, for example, a male attorney pushed a female associate into the pool. Firm leaders allegedly applauded and gave each other high-fives.

The conduct sounds juvenile at best, but all too common. As Mike Brady might say, big firm problems are a lot like small firm problems, only bigger.

BigLaw, Big Suit

If it were a small firm, a gender-bias suit over party antics would not likely make headlines. But Jones Day is one of the biggest law firms in the world, so yeah.

Reuters reported that six female associates complained about being passed over for promotions, subjected to sexist comments, and marginalized for taking maternity leave. Meanwhile, male associates got plum assignments on the partnership track.

The alleged misogyny didn't help, either. One "Jane Doe" said she was encouraged to wear high heels; another was told to smile more; another was referred to as "eye candy."

Drinking and parties were apparently a bad combination, too. At holiday parties at one office, the suit alleges, senior male attorneys gawked at dancing female associates.

Bias By the Numbers

In Tolton v. Jones Day, named plaintiffs Nilab Rahyan Tolton and Andrea Mazingo said they worked at the firm's office in Irvine, California. They say women made less money than their male counterparts, and were outnumbered in partnership ranks.

Those claims will be by the numbers, not dependent on tales about office parties. Sanford Heisler Sharp, which filed the complaint, is counting on it.

Jones Day is also facing another lawsuit from the same firm, but that's a different story. In the gender-discrimination case, it could be much bigger because the plaintiffs filed for a class-action.

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