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Jones Day Disputes Female Lawyer’s Need to Sue Anonymously

June 28, 2019, 1:07 PM

A woman who is part of a group of female attorneys suing Jones Day for alleged systemic sex bias must reveal her name, the firm told the federal judge handling the case.

Jane Doe 4 failed to show the exceptional circumstances required before a court will allow a plaintiff to sue anonymously, the June 27 redacted filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia says. Her concern that suing under her real name will harm her career is unsupported and is a claim that could be made by any employment discrimination plaintiff, the firm says.

The potential for “blacklisting” and reputational harm also “runs both way” yet an employer being suing for workplace bias can’t hide its identity, Jones Day says. That’s consistent with the U.S. judicial system’s call for open court proceedings, which is a hallmark of common law, constitutional law, and federal procedural rules, it says.

Attorneys have tried many times before to sue a law firm for alleged employment discrimination using a pseudonym, the filing says. In none of those cases was their request granted over the firm’s objection, Jones Day says.

Jones Day successfully fought bids by three other women in the case to shield their identities from public disclosure. The four women are part of a group of six who sued Jones Day in April asserting classwide claims of sex discrimination in pay, promotions, and based on pregnancy.

Jane Doe’s attempt to liken herself to a whistleblower misses the mark, the firm says. She filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and its D.C. counterpart and could have remained anonymously while those agencies investigated and pursued relief on her behalf. But she instead withdrew her charge with the D.C. agency, didn’t wait for the EEOC to make a finding, and sued the firm in court seeking $200 million in damages, Jones Day said.

“That choice triggered” her need to comply with the near absolute requirement to reveal her identity, the firm says.

Sanford Heisler Sharp represents Jane Doe 4. Jones Day is representing itself.

The case is Tolton v. Jones Day, D.D.C., No. 1:19-cv-00945, opposition to renewed motion to proceed under pseudonym 6/27/19.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com