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Jones Day Seeks Sanctions in Women’s Pay Bias Suit (1)

Dec. 6, 2019, 9:45 PMUpdated: Dec. 7, 2019, 8:54 PM

Jones Day wants a federal court in Washington to dismiss female former associates’ pay bias claims because they didn’t have “a good-faith basis” to allege the firm pays male associates more for equal work.

“Plaintiffs have admitted they have no factual basis for the allegation. And, in fact, they admitted that the facts they knew contradicted their allegation,” Jones Day told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Dec. 6 in a motion seeking sanctions.

“Plaintiffs also admitted that they did no investigation prior to leveling the accusation of systemic sex-based disparate pay,” Jones Day said.

Nilab Tolton and the others sued Jones Day in April, alleging the firm discriminates against women by way of lower pay and narrowed career opportunities.

But plaintiffs “admitted at their depositions that they discussed compensation with their colleagues while at Jones Day, and the facts they learned from those discussions not only do not support their pay allegations—they flatly contradict them,” Jones Day said.

For example, a 2017 text exchange between plaintiff Jacyln Stahl and a male associate shows that Stahl knew her male colleague was making “Cravath base” with “no bonus,” while she was making $25,000 above “Cravath base,” Jones Day said, referring to a pay scale set by the law firm Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP.

Both Stahl and plaintiff Andrea Mazingo also knew that Mazingo was paid more than both of the men in the associate class that started with her in the firm’s Irvine, Calif., office. And plaintiffs have also admitted that they randomly identified male associates as “comparators” in their third amended complaint without any basis for knowing their salaries, Jones Day said.

Jones Day said it sent a draft motion, along with a detailed letter, to the plaintiffs’ attorneys last month, laying out the grounds for the motion, in compliance with federal civil procedure rules governing sanctions.

“Plaintiffs refused to withdraw their claims alleging that Jones Day paid men more than women,” the firm said.

Jones Day asked the court to dismiss all of the claims with prejudice to the extent they are based on disparate pay, and order plaintiffs’ counsel to pay Jones Day’s attorneys’ fees and costs associated with the motion.

“Jones Day’s sanctions motion is a groundless procedural ploy designed to distract from its facially unlawful ‘black box’ pay secrecy policy,” said Russell Kornblith, partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP, which represents the plaintiffs. “We look forward to responding in our papers with the Court.”

Jones Day represents itself.

The case is Tolton v. Jones Day, D.D.C., No. 1:19-cv-00945, motion 12/6/19.

(Updates Dec. 6 story with comment from Sanford Heisler Sharp in the 11th paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at; Nicholas Datlowe at