Northern California Record

Monday, February 17, 2020

Ogletree law firm 'systematically overlooks' its female attorneys, lawyer for plaintiff in sex bias suit says


By Carrie Bradon | Jan 29, 2019

General court 09

A former equity shareholder of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. recently filed a lawsuit claiming the firm discriminated against her in violation of California’s Equal Pay Act.

Tracey Warren filed the lawsuit on Jan. 23 in the San Diego County Superior Court claiming the firm allowed for unequal pay and sex discrimination, a Jan. 24 posting on said. Her legal action follows that of Dawn Knepper, a non-equity shareholder who filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against the law firm alleging sex bias, the posting said.

The allegations in Warren's suit state that male attorneys are given more representation than the women and that female shareholders were paid $110,000 less than males in the same position in 2017, the posting said.

David Sanford of Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP in San Diego, the firm representing Warren, echoed Warren's claims in regards to the culture that Ogletree is allegedly fostering.

“Ogletree purports to be committed to diversity and fostering inclusion as an integral part of its professional development efforts," Sanford told the Northern California Record

Ogletree, however, has pointed to their compensation system, saying that most of the attorneys who have been promoted to shareholder over the past five years have been women, which does not align with Warren's allegations of unequal treatment.

According to a press release from Sanford Heisler Sharp, Warren's complaint exhibits that Ogletree has made purposeful violations of the Private Attorneys General Act. The release said female leadership decreases at each higher level of leadership within the firm.

Sanford said the male leadership at Ogletree treats the female attorneys as lesser than the male attorneys. 

"Our filings allege that Ogletree’s male leadership systematically overlooks, devalues, or undermines its female attorneys," Sanford said. "As Ogletree’s managing shareholder explained, ‘We are not real good at practicing what we preach.'" 

Warren is seeking unpaid wages and has joined Knepper's class action lawsuit, the Bloomberg Law posting said.

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