Reed Smith Partner: Firm Doles Out Work Based on Sexual Favors

By Jason Beahm on December 08, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

How does your firm determine who gets particular projects? According to a non-equity partner at Reed Smith, the firm makes its determinations based on sexual favors.

According to JoEllen Lyons Dillon, Reed Smith pays and promotes women less than men. In addition, Dillon claims that work is given to female attorneys particularly when they engage in sexual relations with Reed Smith's management. Because she refused to engage in sexual relations with management, she did not receive the projects that she sought after, according to Dillon's suit.

After Dillon had twins with her husband, her compensation was decreased by nearly 50%. Dillon alleges that when she objected to the reduction, partner David DeNinno, asked Dillon if she was "done having babies yet." Dillon, through her attorney Samuel J. Cordes, says that's not all. Cordes says that Dillon has evidence of sexual quid pro quos at Reed Smith.

Attorney Samuel J. Cordes said "that there is a pattern here of a male locker room, and it includes sexual favors," but that Dillon refused to partake in the "games guys play."

Needless to say, Reed Smith had a *different* take on things. Their chief marketing officer, David Egan issued a statement which read, in part :"[W]e are confident that Reed Smith provides a positive working environment in all of our offices, including Pittsburgh."

There are a number of laws prohibiting gender bias in the workplace. Sex discrimination laws prohibit unequal treatment on the basis of sex. The treatment must not simply be different, but also unequal, and therefore unfair. For example, it is illegal to provide different working conditions, salaries, hiring, promotion or bonus criteria to women and men on the basis of gender. In addition, it is illegal to make employment decisions based on a quid pro quo sexual arrangement.

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