Former Partner Hits Jones Day With Gender Bias Suit

A former partner in Jones Day’s Silicon Valley office alleged in a suit June 19 that she was kicked out of the firm after raising concerns about its treatment of female lawyers.

Wendy Moore, who joined Jones Day as a partner in 2013, alleged firm leadership retaliated against her after she voiced misgivings about the firm’s alleged sexist culture, lack of pay transparency, and marginalization of female attorneys.

The complaint describes Jones Day as a “fraternity” in which women are dependent on male lawyers for success and in which business development occurs primarily at strip clubs and sports events.

“The firm’s male leaders often make sexist comments and rate the attractiveness of female attorneys, paralegals, staff, and officers of the firm’s clients,” the complaint says. “Business development events, too, often center on degrading stereotypes of femininity and cater to a preference for sports and alcohol.”

Moore filed the lawsuit in state court under California’s Private Attorneys General Act, which allows employees to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves and other employees for violations of the state’s labor code.

A representative for Jones Day didn’t respond to a request for comment about the allegations.

According to the complaint, Jones Day doesn’t pay its associates in lock-step, nor does it provide its partners with information about how many hours each associate bills, leaving partners “ill-equipped to rectify uneven billable workload distributions or identify gender-biased decision making.”

Given the lack of transparency around pay at the firm, “not a single female partner or associate in Northern California was in a position to question the statements by male partners that pay was being distributed fairly and without gender bias,” Moore alleges.

In 2015, Moore was appointed hiring partner for the Silicon Valley and San Francisco offices, according to the complaint. The following year, female law students interviewing at the firm told Moore they were concerned about its opaque compensation structure and its support for Donald Trump, according to the complaint. When she relayed this to management in the firm’s Northern California offices, Moore was asked to “tone down her criticism,” the complaint says.

At the end of 2017, Moore raised these and other concerns about the “‘boys’ club’ culture” at Jones Day. Within months, she was barred from the annual partner retreat and then removed from the partnership, according to the complaint. She is now a partner at Perkins Coie.

Moore is represented by David Sanford of Sanford Heisler Sharp, which is leading the charge on BigLaw gender discrimination lawsuits. The firm is currently litigating various types of gender bias cases against Morrison & Foerster, Ogletree Deakins, and Proskauer. It has recently settled claims against Chadbourne & Parke (now Norton Rose Fulbright) and Sedgwick.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Russell-Kraft in New York at srussellkraft@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom P. Taylor at ttaylor@bloomberglaw.com