Norton Rose Fulbright merger target mired in sexual discrimination scandal
13 April 2017
The US firm set to merge with Norton Rose Fulbright
is embroiled in a feud with three female partners and is voting to expel one of them from the partnership after she sued it for sexual discrimination.
Last September Chadbourne & Parke litigation partner Kerrie Campbell filed a federal sex discrimination claim accusing the firm of routinely underpaying women. Campbell sued for $100 million because, well, that's just a really big pile of money but somehow it seems about right. However she upset most of her fellow female partners by framing her complaint as a class action which included all of them. 14 of the 15 other female partners wrote an open letter of support for the firm, in which they rejected her attempt to represent them
Chadbourne's partners have now decided to hold a vote to expel Campbell from the partnership. And because US lawyers like to wash their dirty linen in public, they have accused her in a statement of a "failure to deliver
" as a partner and said she had made "baseless claims in the cynical pursuit of a big and undeserved payday
However two other Chadbourne women have now joined Campbell's sex discrimination claim. One is Jaroslawa Johnson, a former partner in Chadbourne's Kiev office. The other is Mary Yelenick, a 35-year Chadbourne veteran whose name was missing from the anti-Campbell letter and who now says that “during my employment, I believe Chadbourne paid me less than men who performed similar work
||Campbell, Yelenick and Johnson v The Man (and 14 Women)
When RollOnFriday queried the absence of Yelenick's signature on the letter last year, a spokesman for Chadbourne said she was out of the country. But this week the lawyer representing the three rogue women, David Sanford, said that "while Ms. Yelenick was indeed traveling during the period when other women partners at the firm reportedly signed the letter, she had been shown the letter and had declined to sign the letter prior to leaving for her trip".
In a rambling statement an excitable spokesman for Chadbourne said that Campbell's claim was "riddled with falsehoods
", that Yelenick’s allegations "are plainly false"
and that "no one in Firm leadership pressured Ms. Yelenick or any other female partner to sign the letter"
This article has been an advisory notice for Norton Rose Fulbright that it is about to get into bed with a big bag of crazy.