Two women among a group accusing Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. of sex-based pay discrimination against female shareholders nationwide asked a federal court in California to make them named plaintiffs and to move part of the case to Colorado.
Those measures are necessary to preserve the class equal pay claims Dawn Knepper asserted when she first filed the case, Jocelyn Campanaro and Angelica Ochoa say in a motion filed May 9 with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Campanaro, Ochoa, and Alicia Voltmer were added to the lawsuit as opt-in plaintiffs under the collective action provisions governing the Equal Pay Act.
Denial of their motion to intervene and be included as named plaintiffs will prejudice their rights and the rights of other female Ogletree shareholders, the women say. That’s because Knepper is no longer able to act as the lead plaintiff in and class representative of the proposed equal pay collective action, they say.
The court March 25 ruled that Knepper can’t pursue her equal pay allegations in court but instead must arbitrate them on an individual basis under the terms of her employment agreement with Ogletree.
It’s undisputed that Campanaro and Ochoa aren’t subject to arbitration agreements, according to their motion papers. But now that Knepper, the sole named plaintiff, “has been relegated to arbitration and prevented from proceeding with litigation, their longstanding claims are placed in limbo,” the women say.
Ogletree won’t be prejudiced by allowing them to act as named plaintiffs of the proposed equal pay class because the case is still in its infancy, Campanaro and Ochoa say. No additional discovery would be needed and no discovery that’s already been completed would have to be redone, they say.
Because the California-based Knepper is effectively out of the class equal pay claim, the court should sever and transfer that claim to the District of Colorado, where Campanaro and Ochoa live and work, the motion says.
Knepper’s separate class claim under California’s Private Attorney Generals Act should remain in the Central District of California, Campanaro and Ochoa say. That claim has been stayed pending the individual arbitration of her equal pay allegations.
Campanaro and Ochoa argue alternatively that the court should dismiss them from Knepper’s case and give them 60 days to refile the class equal pay allegations in another court, including the District of Colorado.
Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP and Desai Law Firm PC represent Knepper. Paul Hastings LLP represents Ogletree.
The case is Knepper v. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., C.D. Cal., No. 8:19-cv-00060, motion filed 5/9/19.