In 2016, we reported on Kerrie Campbell’s class action complaint against Chadbourne & Parke, LLP, in which Ms. Campbell alleged that Chadbourne & Park, LLP, had underpaid and blocked female partners from leadership roles at the firm. Earlier this week, the parties filed papers revealing that they were able to reach a proposed settlement in the case.
Since the action began in 2016, Chadbourne & Parke merged with Norton Rose Fulbright, another large international law firm. Additionally, two more plaintiffs joined the case, Mary Yelenick and Jaroslawa Johnson, former Chadbourne partners who allege similar facts as Ms. Campbell.
The papers disclose that the three individual plaintiffs will receive settlements ranging from $250,000 to $1,000,000. While Chadbourne (and successor Norton Rose) consistently denied any wrongdoing in the matter and settled the case prior to any finding of wrongdoing, the result should be viewed as victory and vindication for the women involved. Furthermore, the settlement, albeit lower than the initial $100,000,000 sought, it is a substantial financial success.
Gender discrimination at law firms—both big and small—is a real issue. For years, the top-ranked law firms were the exclusive domains of white men. Although this has changed over recent years, white men still dominate most firms. This continues to have an effect on law firm demographics, as white male partners tend to mentor and groom white male associates for higher-level positions. Whether these exclusionary practices happen consciously or subconsciously, this cycle effectively prevents the upper echelons of law firms from diversifying.
Although many firms are making efforts to diversify, hiring and promoting a more diverse group of associates, the top remains a male-dominated workforce. This is the phenomenon against which Kerrie Campbell, Mary Yelenick, and Jaroslawa Johnson fought. Unfortunately, it is not limited to the legal field; women in many industries still struggle to reach the top positions at their places of work.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against at work because of your gender, please contact The Harman Firm, LLP.