Two married former Jones Day associates suing for alleged parental leave and other job bias told a federal judge they’re entitled to information on partnership pay and the firm’s “wealth” because it’s relevant to the damages they seek.
Mark Savignac said Jones Day also should be required to produce information regarding its partnership promotion decision-making because it’s relevant to his claim that he would have been named a partner by now if he hadn’t been illegally fired for complaining about parental leave bias, according to a brief filed Aug. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Savignac is suing along with his wife, Julia Sheketoff. Both were Supreme Court clerks and Jones Day Issues & Appeals group associates.
The couple have “contended throughout this case” that Savignac would’ve been promoted to partner in 2020 if not for his wrongful discharge, just like every Jones Day associate since at least 2014 who was a former Supreme Court clerk and remained at the firm until becoming eligible for elevation to partner, they said.
Savignac is entitled to discovery from Jones Day to prove that he indeed would have made partner, to show what his pay as a Jones Day partner would have been, and to establish how long attorneys remain at Jones Day after being made partners, the couple said.
That he was able to get a similar job at another large law firm didn’t cut off his right to front pay damages, Savignac said.
He makes less money at his new firm than he did at Jones Day, he said. And there’s no rule barring a job bias plaintiff from recovering front pay just because he obtains replacement employment that’s somewhat comparable to the job he was fired from, Savignac said.
The brief was filed at the request of Judge Randolph D. Moss following a July 20 conference and responds to a brief filed by Jones Day Aug. 3.
The firm argued that discovery on its partnership promotions and pay is irrelevant because Savignac’s assertion that he would have become a partner if the firm hadn’t fired him is unprovable and speculative. “Partners aren’t fungible widgets,” it said.
It’s not Jones Day’s fault if Savignac’s pay at his new firm is lower as he could have pursued a better-paying job elsewhere given his credentials and self-professed “talents,” the firm said.
Jones Day’s insinuation that Savignac failed to mitigate his damages is speculative and incorrect, the couple said. He sought work with more than 40 law firms yet got just one offer, they said.
That’s “hardly a surprising outcome for an eighth-year appellate associate whose firm fired him without warning and prohibited his supervisors from acting as references,” the couple said.
The importance of the issues at stake, the amount in controversy—"in the millions,” and other factors make partnership discovery proper, they said.
And the punitive damages they seek make discovery into Jones Day’s financial resources proper as well, the couple said.
The firm’s “wealth” and resources will be relevant to the sufficiency of any deterrent message about future employment discrimination a jury might want to send Jones Day given its size and prestige, Savignac and Sheketoff said.
“Jones Day is one of the wealthiest legal employers” and has admitted that D.C. law permits evidence of a defendant’s wealth on the issue of punitive damages, they said.
The firm is off-base in arguing that Moss should delay ruling on their partnership and punitive damages discovery requests until after he considers the merits of Savignac’s retaliation claim, the couple said.
That would needlessly protract the case and any information turned over that’s confidential or sensitive will be covered by the broad protective order the judge has already issued, they said.
Savignac and Sheketoff represent themselves. Jones Day represents itself.
The case is Savignac v. Jones Day, D.D.C., No. 1:19-cv-02443, brief in support 8/21/21.