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Jones Day Lawyer Alleging Sex Bias Renews Bid for Anonymity

June 18, 2019, 2:52 PM

A female lawyer who is part of a group of six women who sued Jones Day for alleged sex discrimination renewed her request to keep her name secret.

Jane Doe 4 filed the proposed class action against the firm along with five other women in April. They allege that Jones Day engages in systemic discrimination against female associates, including in pay, promotions, and when they become pregnant. Three of the other women also withheld their real names from the lawsuit.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled May 30 that the firm can use the women’s names and identities for the limited purpose of investigating their allegations and responding to the lawsuit. It left open whether they may continue to proceed using pseudonyms as the case advances beyond the preliminary stages.

But Jones Day has known her identity and the substance of her allegations since the fourth quarter of 2018, and it informed more than 100 other employees of her and the other Jane Doe plaintiffs’ identities, Jane Doe 4 says in her renewed motion to proceed under a pseudonym. She asks the court in the June 17 filing to allow her to remain anonymous for three more months.

Jones Day has already initiated an investigation into the women’s claims and will suffer no prejudice from not revealing her name any further, Jane Doe 4 says. Maintaining her anonymity hasn’t and won’t prevent it from interviewing potential witnesses, she says.

Unmasking her further, however, creates the risk of substantial harm to her professional reputation and career opportunities, she says. That she is no longer with Jones Day doesn’t remove her from the reach of potential retaliation. She is, in essence, a “whistleblower” accusing “one of the world’s most powerful law firms” of employment discrimination, Jane Doe 4 says.

The risk of harm to workers who expose systemic workplace bias is well known, she says. She might also be stigmatized in the legal community based on her health condition if her identity is revealed, she says.

Protecting her privacy and personal interests by shielding her identity won’t undercut any public interest, including in open court proceedings, Jane Doe 4 says. Denying her continued use of a pseudonym actually “will have the opposite effect” as it will deter other women and workers exposed to systemic discrimination from coming forward with their claims out of a fear of job retaliation, she says.

Sanford Heisler Sharp represents Jane Doe 4 and the proposed class. Jones Day is representing itself.

The case is Tolton v. Jones Day, D.D.C., No. 1:19-cv-00945, renewed motion to proceed under pseudonym 6/17/19.

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