Female Lawyer Sues International Law Firm Greenberg Traurig – Las Vegas Employment Attorney Paul S. PaddaFiled under Employment Law
According to The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, women now surpass men in educational attainment. In 2012, 40% of women between the ages of 21 and 30 had either an associates or bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, only 31% of men in the same age range had similar educational attainment.
Despite the significant educational advancements by women, they remain at a disadvantage in the workplace. According to the American Association of University Women, young women fresh out of college earn approximately $8,000 less per year than their male counterparts who perform similar jobs. However, these disparities traverse all income levels according to researchers and exist in professions such as medicine and law where women now account for significant percentages of the workforce.
Not all women are content to accept these unjust disparities. Francine Griesing, a former partner at the international law firm Greenberg Traurig (“GT”), has recently filed a $200 million class-action lawsuit in federal court against the firm alleging a “boys club” culture where higher pay and plum client assignments for men are the status quo while female lawyers are routinely overlooked. According to Ms. Griesing’s federal complaint, GT “pays women less, promotes them at lower rates than men and virtually freezes them out from high-level managerial positions.” Ominously, the complaint also alleges that the pattern of gender discrimination at GT has one notable exception, namely that “GT prioritizes pay and promotes women who have intimate relationships with Firm leaders or who acquiesce to sexualized stereotypes.”
Legal commentators following this lawsuit state that litigation of this kind may be on the rise in the future as women in positions of power at law firms are increasingly more likely to speak up about perceived mistreatment or unfairness. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence” states Lauren Stiller Rikleen, an attorney and executive-in-residence at the Boston College Center for Work and Family. “I think women still filed these lawsuits at personal risk, however, I think what’s changing is the climate for tolerance of feeling unfairly treated.”
Calling the lawsuit a “publicity stunt,” GT has vowed a vigorous defense in federal court. Ms. Griesing’s complaint, which alleges “GT’s discrimination is particularly severe, even in the context of an industry-wide problem of gender discrimination against female attorneys” will be closely followed by legal industry observers.