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Female Jones Day Lawyers Will Forego Class Pay, Sex Bias Claims

Dec. 15, 2020, 4:11 PM

Six female attorneys suing Jones Day for allegedly widespread sex discrimination told a District of Columbia federal judge their review of nationwide job evaluation and compensation data produced by the firm revealed insufficient proof of classwide pay or disparate impact bias.

Three of the women—Katrina Henderson, Saira Draper, and Meredith Williams—will withdraw their pending motion seeking conditional certification of a collective action under the Equal Pay Act, the women and Jones Day said Dec. 14 in a joint status report filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Henderson, Draper, Williams, Nilab Rahyar Tolton, Andrea Mazingo, and Jaclyn Stahl also said they don’t plan to otherwise pursue class or collective claims on their allegations of systemic pay discrimination and disparate impact or unintentional bias.

They decided to drop those claims after examining nationwide performance and compensation data for 2012 through 2018. Judge Randolph D. Moss ordered the firm to produce that data in a July 9 ruling.

The April 2019 suit allegedthat Jones Day operates a “black box” compensation system under which managing partner Stephen J. Brogan has final decision-making authority. Jones Day policy forbids employees from discussing their pay with each other, and the firm has a separate “no whining policy” that bars female associates from complaining about sex-based inequities, the women said.

Brogan enforces both policies through the “hypercentralized,” “totalitarian grip” Jones Day has granted him, they say. The bias has resulted in female associates receiving lower pay and narrowed career opportunities because of their sex, the women said.

The women will continue to pursue their remaining individual pay and other discrimination claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act, 42 U.S.C. §1981, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and various D.C. and other state laws, according to the joint status report. They will also continue to advance their representative claims under California’s Private Attorney General Act, the report said.

Jones Day’s motion seeking partial summary judgment on Draper’s, Henderson’s, and Williams’ Equal Pay Act claims—the individual EPA claims of the other women were previously dismissed—"has been fully briefed and is pending,” the report said.

The women also no longer plan to submit expert reports from an industrial organization psychologist or a labor economist, according to the report.

Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP represents the women. Jones Day represents itself.

The case is Tolton v. Jones Day, D.D.C., No. 1:19-cv-00945, joint status report 12/14/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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