Some time ago, Baker & McKenzie got sued for sexual harassment. That case sent shockwaves throughout lawfirms nationwide.
A case out of New York last week (ABA Journal Online, 8/22) will not reverberate nearly that loudly but considering how some lawfirms are still perceived (fairly or unfairly) as not being “family-friendly”, the case should be of concern nonetheless.
A jury has awarded about $720,000 in damages to an associate and paralegal who claimed they were forced out of their New York law firm because of their pregnancies.
Garden City, N.Y., tax law firm Siegel, Fenchel & Peddy will only have to pay about $266,000 if the verdict is upheld because of a punitive damages cap, the firm’s lawyer told the New York Law Journal.
Obviously, there’s always more to the story than the headlines (and, it should be noted that the lawfirm strongly denied the allegations), but I can’t help but wonder how many other lawfirms are ripe for such lawsuits because of the perception of the firm. Given stereotypes of the hard-charging lawyer, it’s not that hard to then believe that a firm would discriminate against someone perceived to be not working as hard because of their pregnancy.