Dawn Knepper, a female lawyer, is suing Ogletree Deakins for gender discrimination in a class action on behalf of female partners. The class action complaint seeking $300 million alleges female partners make less than similarly situated male partners. Though she asked to be paid the same amount as her male cohort with equivalent experience when she transferred to the firm’s Orange County office in 2012, she says her requests were not taken seriously. Knepper alleges Ogletree paid her about $100,000 less than her male counterpart with similar experience and business. Here is what we know about the allegations:
1/ The firm’s management is dominated by males, many of whom hold superior roles.
2/ Knepper alleges that the male-dominated work culture “ marginalizes, demeans and undervalues women.”
3/ Though Ogletree Deakins claims to be an equal opportunity employer, Knepper alleges that 80 percent of the equity partners are men.
4/ Though Knepper brought up the fact that she was underpaid in every shareholder compensation interview, her compensation was not increased. She also submitted unsuccessful follow-up appeals.
5/ Knepper alleges that a male cohort prevented her from attending a business conference and speaking at a seminar, experiences that could have furthered her career.
Though there are more female law school graduates, women tend to only make up 35 percent of employed lawyers at firms. Studies also show that female partners at big law firms earn an average of $300,000 less than male partners at such big firms.
What do you think of these claims? Is it really possible to do an apples to apples comparison for big law firm partners when so much of their compensation is based on business and not experience?
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