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Jones Day Couple Slams Firm’s Dismissal Bid in Dad-Leave Case

Oct. 11, 2019, 3:10 PM

Husband and wife lawyers suing Jones Day for alleged parental leave bias against men and other sex discrimination told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia the firm’s motion to dismiss the suit is a baseless personal “attack” and must be denied.

The justification Jones Day cites for giving new mothers eight more weeks of paid leave than new fathers may take “is a sham,” Mark Savignac and Julia Sheketoff said in their opposition to the firm’s motion. The firm’s leave policy labels those eight extra weeks as “disability leave,” but it gives all new moms the additional time off regardless of whether they’re disabled, the couple said.

Jones Day even gives adoptive parents, who aren’t at risk of pregnancy-related disabilities, the eight extra weeks, they said. Only new dads can’t use it. That’s illegal discrimination, Savignac and Sheketoff said.

The firm’s top decision-makers have “vast legal experience” and knew the policy was unlawful, so they “attacked” the couple “along with their two-week old son” by firing Savignac and then sabotaging his search for a new job after he complained about the unequal treatment of new fathers, the Oct. 10 filing said.

The motion to dismiss “attacks strawmen,” including the notion that the couple’s opposition to the policy is based on their belief that new mothers shouldn’t be given leave for however long they might be disabled. That’s a “smear,” and Jones Day never argued that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act required giving all new mothers fixed sex-based leave beyond any period of disability, Savignac and Sheketoff said.

Jones Day’s bid to dismiss Savignac’s retaliation claim as not based on a reasonable belief that he was opposing sex discrimination is “frivolous,” the couple said. Even if some attorneys could find the policy “defensible,” no lawyer “could believe that Plaintiffs’ position falls beyond the realm of reasonable legal disagreement” and use it to justify firing “a hardworking associate” with a new child, they said.

Sheketoff likewise should be permitted to go forward with her retaliation claim, the couple said. As Savignac’s wife, she was in the “zone of interests” the U.S. Supreme Court had held is shielded from retaliation under federal employment bias law, they said.

Savignac and Sheketoff are representing themselves. Jones Day is representing itself.

The case is Savignac v. Jones Day, D.D.C., No. 1:19-cv-02443, opposition to motion to dismiss 10/10/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at; Patrick L. Gregory at