Philadelphia Employment Law News

Former Partner Sues Greenberg Traurig Over Gender Discrimination

It’s not often you see a law firm on the other end of a discrimination lawsuit. And by “other end”, we mean not as defenders, but as the defendant.

A Philadelphia attorney is bringing a discrimination lawsuit against the Greenberg Traurig law firm, reports The Phoenix Business Journal.

Discrimination lawsuits against large law firms are definitely newsworthy. One big reason is for the fact that they’re pretty rare. Many agree there is an unwritten rule in the legal profession that says a lawyer will never work again if he or she sues the law firm.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you, they say. The same philosophy echoes in the financial industry. Just ask Ellen Pao, who's suing the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.

But the rarity of the lawsuit isn't the only reason it's newsworthy. The lawsuit is huge, too. It seeks $200 million in damages.

The lawsuit was filed by Francine Friedman Griesing. She is claiming gender pay discrimination and wrongful termination, according to The Business Journal. Griesing was a partner at the firm from 2007 to 2010. She was pushed out in 2010.

She followed all of the right steps. First, she reported her claim to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, complaining that female attorneys and male attorneys weren't treated the same.

She alleges in her lawsuit that male attorneys are hired at higher pay and at higher levels than their female counterparts. Greenberg isn't having any of this, however. They're calling the lawsuit a "publicity stunt."

Gender disparity is a huge problem and as you may recall from the recent presidential campaign, the Lilly Ledbetter Act was brought up several times, most notably in Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" comment.

While the comment turned into a big Internet joke, the reality is that women are paid less than men in many professions. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, while it doesn't change the pay scale for women, does extent the time for a woman to bring an action for gender discrimination.

Whether this Greenberg Traurig lawsuit or Ellen Pao's gender discrimination lawsuit will have any effect on the gender politics in the "Big-Boys' club" that is finance and law, we have yet to see. But it's a start.

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