The partner anonymously suing Proskauer Rose over allegations of gender discrimination and unequal pay has revealed herself as Connie Bertram, an employment attorney in the firm’s Washington office.
Bertram revealed her name in an amended complaint against Proskauer, which levels new accusations of retaliation at firm leadership.
“Ms. Bertram is one of the nation’s leading employment defense attorneys,” said her attorney, David Sanford, chairman of Sanford Heisler Sharp. “She understands now that settlement is unlikely and is ready to proceed to trial.”
Bertram has been a partner at Proskauer since 2013, when she joined from Cooley LLP. According to her firm bio, she leads the Washington labor & employment practice, is co-head of the whistleblowing and retaliation group, and head of the government contractor compliance group.
She sued the firm last spring, alleging she was paid less than similarly productive male partners, and that she was excluded from projects and firm events after she complained about it. She chose to sue as a “Jane Doe” out of fear a public case would damage her career, Sanfordtold Big Law Business at the time.
In the amended complaint, Bertram alleges members of Proskauer leadership have limited her access to firm files and databases, excluded her from client pitches, removed her from matters, and made false and disparaging statements to the press.
Proskauer has said in press statements that Bertram didn’t complain about her compensation until “a few months” before filing her lawsuit. “In fact, plaintiff has repeatedly and persistently complained about her compensation from December 2014 to the present,” Bertram said in her amended complaint.
A spokesman for Proskauer said the amended complaint presented no new evidence in a threshold issue of the case -- whether or not Bertram is an employee of the firm.
Bertram must be considered an employee to sue under the various state and federal anti-discrimination laws at issue in the case. Because she is a partner, the firm claims she is a co-owner and thus not an employee. Bertram says she should be considered an employee because she doesn’t have control over the firm’s operations.
The parties recently began limited discovery on that issue.
The Proskauer spokesman also said Bertram’s amended complaint is “full of accusations contradicted by the facts, and a misrepresentation of Proskauer’s transparent and equitable compensation system that resulted in her earning enormous sums for her contributions.”
Median compensation of the firm’s male and female equity partners is identical and the averages are close to identical, according to the spokesman.
“We will respond in detail to the plaintiff’s amended complaint in the next several weeks, and will show that the plaintiff was treated more than fairly,” the spokesman said. “Further, we remain confident that with the limited discovery the judge has ordered, it will soon become evident that the plaintiff is a business owner, and that her claims to the contrary are without merit.”
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