Three out of four previously anonymous plaintiffs have put their names to a gender discrimination case against Jones Day in an amended complaint filed Monday night.
Meredith Williams, Saira Draper, and Jaclyn Stahl, all former associates at Jones Day, have joined Nilab Rahyar Tolton, Andrea Mazingo, and Katrina Henderson as named plaintiffs in a $200 million class and collective action against the law firm. The plaintiffs have alleged systematic discrimination against female associates related to pay, promotions and pregnancy.
The plaintiffs have long sought to maintain anonymity, arguing that they would be branded with a “scarlet letter” and blacklisted from other law firms if their identities were made public.
On May 30 the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Jones Day may disclose the identities of the female attorneys in the lawsuit but the disclosure must be limited to its investigations of their allegations and the firm’s initial response to the lawsuit.
“Each of us made the personal decision to stand up for what we believe is right and bring this action,” the plaintiffs said in a statement.
“It is time to do away with the stigmatization of women who challenge discrimination and harassment in their workplaces. We will not stay silent; we will not be bullied. And we are empowered by our solidarity.”
Sanford Heisler Sharp, which is representing the plaintiffs, declined to comment. Jones Day did not immediately reply to request for comment.
According to their respective Linkedin profiles, Williams was a former summer associate at Jones Day in Irvine, California and joined the firm in 2013 where she remained until 2017 when she joined Rutan & Tucker. Draper, now a senior staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, was an associate in the firm’s Atlanta office from 2011 until October 2018.
Stahl, also a former summer associate at Jones Day, joined the Irvine office in 2014 where she remained until January 2018.
Earlier this month, Facebook in-house counsel and former Jones Day associate Jessica Wilkes was the first non-named plaintiff to opt-in to the lawsuit against the firm. Last week Katrina Henderson, now counsel for Amazon Studios, also requested to become a part of the suit.
Katrina Henderson worked in Jones Day’s New York City office from October 2013 until July 2016 and is seeking to represent the class of female attorneys in New York for violations under New York Human Rights Law and New York Equal Pay Law.
In the amended complaint Henderson alleges that she was held back and “relentlessly criticized” even for minor infractions by a New York partner and assigned mentor at Jones Day, Randi Lesnick.
In one instance, during a family vacation over the winter holidays in 2013, Henderson claims that she did not respond to an email for 20 minutes because she was spending time with her family. Henderson alleges that Lesnick then called her and berated her for failing to review a document immediately, causing Henderson to suffer a panic attack.
Upon returning to the office, Henderson alleges Lesnick raised the issue again, leaving Henderson in tears. After the incident, Henderson claims that the firm never assigned her a new mentor and her assignments began to diminish. In December 2015, Henderson claims that despite a positive review, she was informed that she would be terminated from the firm.
In the amended complaint the plaintiffs allege that while Jones Day promises to compensate its associates who consistently produce high-quality work at or above market, the plaintiffs were not compensated within the “Cravath” market scale, which is considered top-of-line pay in Big Law.
Jones Day is known for having a black box compensation structure, which keeps attorney pay completely under wraps.
In addition to pay inequity, the plaintiffs allege that female associates were given non-billable tasks like party planning and asked to devote “substantial time” to these activities.
In the updated complaint, Stahl claims that she was asked to be the social chair of the summer associate program. When she declined the role and asked for a different one, she alleged Mark Finkelstein, a partner with the firm in Irvine at the time, said he thought she would be “good at party planning.” When a male associate was then assigned the role, Finkelstein allegedly appointed a female associate to assist him.
Neither Finkelstein nor Lesnick immediately responded to request for comment on the amended complaint.