Gender

Sorry fellas, this is your past, not your future.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin the season finale of Mad Men for those who still have it sitting in their DVRs.

Instead, I’m here to remind people that Mad Men is a television show set in a time long since past. Much to the disappointment of white males everywhere, those days are gone and never coming back.

Of course, nostalgia (and the cultural memory of a time when white men were in unquestioned positions of dominance) is a powerful thing. It must be sad to know that winning the birth lottery doesn’t pay off quite as much as it used to. But that’s no excuse for trying to force an anachronistic worldview upon your current working environment. Society has moved on; at some point living in the past stops being “traditional” and starts getting “obsolete.”

And maybe even “illegal.” That’s the argument a former secretary at the firm of Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn is trying to make. She clams that the firm’s “old-school” policies created a hostile work environment and caused her to suffer a physical injury.

According to the secretary’s lawyer, administrative assistants at Honigman are required to strut to work in high heels…

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Big dudes bank more.

There was a lovely report in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, if you are a big dude. The report was less lovely if you are salad-eating waif of a man, and downright offensive if you are a normal-sized woman.

This isn’t going to shock anybody who is trying to make a living by servicing clients, but thin women make more than average-weight or plus-sized women. Over $15,000 more. I don’t know if your law degree makes your ass look fat, but a fat ass will make your law degree less profitable.

But what will surprise some people is that thin men make less than bigger fellas. About $8,000 less. Booya! How do you like them apples? In fact, keep your stinking apples, I’m off to have a dinner of steak and potatoes. Gotta keep those revenue enhancements coming in.

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be celebrating while my big-boned sisters are out there feeling like the entire world is against them. Here, grab a tub of ice cream, sit on the couch next to the Big Sexy, and let’s talk this through…

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There are a couple of interesting employment discrimination suits floating around the blogosphere today. One is continuing on behalf of a dead, obese woman. The other involves leaky breasts. Sound like fun?

The claim that is being pursued by the estate of a dead woman is slightly more newsworthy because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is taking the position that a worker for a non-profit was fired because she had a disability. According to the EEOC — in my head, the EEOC sounds like Jame Gumb (a.k.a. Buffalo Bill) — Lisa Harrison was fired for being a great big fat girl.

Harrison died after filing the suit, but it is being carried on by her estate.

We’ve talked before about how fat people are on the fast track to protected class status. Protected class status is one thing, but are we sure we want to call fat people disabled?

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The fantastically successful firm of Goldman Sachs isn’t just “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” It also discriminates against women, according to the allegations in a lawsuit filed earlier today.

Three female ex-employees of Goldman Sachs accuse the venerable bank of maintaining an “outdated corporate culture” that discriminates against women in terms of pay and promotions. The Goldman Girls — not to be confused with Betty White et al. — seek class-action certification for a class consisting of all female managing directors, vice presidents and associates in the last six years.

The lawsuit alleges that women are underrepresented in GS management, making up just 14 percent of partners, 17 percent of managing directors, and 29 percent of vice presidents. Given what it means to be a partner at Goldman — the New York Times recently described it as “the equivalent of winning the lottery,” in an interesting article about some GS partners being stripped of partnership (law firms aren’t the only ones who can play that game) — the stakes are high.

That’s the straightforward stuff. Other claims in the lawsuit, as noted by Nathan Koppel of the Wall Street Journal, are “a bit more salacious”….

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Ed. note: The following piece was authored by The Legal Tease, of Sweet Hot Justice fame. Check out her other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.

Hey, you. Yes, YOU there, the one with the boobs. You’re a lawyer, right? Or some sort of Big Law type, at least? I figured. I could tell by the bewildered look on your face. I know, sweetie, I know: It’s confusing being a woman in and around Big Law these days. First, unless you have a time machine and a magic wand, it looks like you’re not making partner any time soon. Sorry. Then, of course, there’s the finding-a-long-term-sex-partner-who-doesn’t-require-batteries problem. And then, there’s the latest slap: Laminated scraps of “advice” from Citibank your employer about the stupid things that you do to sabotage your career, you (apparently) soft-spoken, smile-happy, invisible moron cow.

And the advice doesn’t stop there. You can’t even find a good glass ceiling to smack your head up against anymore without tripping over a stack of advice for women lawyers on everything from how to dress for success (Avoid nudity!), to how to toughen up (Sass those boys right back when they act rapey at the office!), to how not to look like a drowned clown corpse at work (Forget it, lost cause!).

At this point, I’m so bored with the heaps of so-called advice from other lawyers and professional counsel-givers that I had to turn to the one person I could think of whose advice never fails. The one person who knows what it’s like to carve out a niche for yourself in an often cruel, mystifying profession overrun by over-educated lunatics: My friend, Alanna.

I think you could learn a lot from her. Why? Because she’s never wrong.

And she’s a hooker…

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Working Mother just released its annual list of the top 100 companies to work for. As we are (hopefully) coming out of the recession, it is possible that people might actually start caring again about family issues and work/life balance issues.

This year, four law firms made the list. Before we get to the “winners,” let’s take a look at the process required to be up for consideration. To be on the list, first you have to fill out an application with 600 questions.

What is the magazine looking for? Here’s the explanation from their methodology section:

Eight areas are scored: workforce profile; benefits; women’s issues and advancement; child care; flexible work; paid time off and leaves; company culture; and work-life programs. An essay regarding best practices to support working mothers is also evaluated…

Working Mother considers not only the programs, benefits and opportunities offered by companies but also recently settled, decided or still-pending gender discrimination lawsuits.

An essay, do you say? Well, so much for rigid objectivity in list making.

Still, the four law firm winners should be proud. Let’s highlight them from out of the other top 100 companies…

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(But Do Law Firms Still Discriminate When It Comes to Pay?)”

If you are new to Above the Law, you might not remember Yolanda Young. She’s an African-American woman who used to work as a staff attorney at Covington & Burling. Some time ago, she sued the firm for racial and gender discrimination. You can read all about her claims here.

Regular readers of this site are already thinking: “Wait, didn’t that suit get dismissed?” ATL veterans are working on their obese/race-baiting/marine mammal mad libs as we speak.

But before we get to those fresh horrors, you all should know something: a federal judge has reinstated part of Yolanda Young’s case against Covington…

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This was the only full body photo of Shelly Sindland available in all of internet-land.

A year ago, we brought attention to the sexual harassment claims of Shelly Sindland. Sindland was a local television reporter in Connecticut who claimed she was discriminated against by Fox 61 News due to her age and gender. Here are some of the highlights from the complaint:

* On or about January 30, 2009, during a meeting with reporters and anchors, on information and belief, [News Director Bob Rockstroh] stated that the Friday newscasts looked like “Big Boob Fridays,” and that as a result of at least one female reporter wearing a tighter shirts on Fridays, the station’s ratings did well on Fridays. On information and belief, [General Manager Rich Graziano] was present and stated “hey, whatever works.”

* On or about February 25, 2009 the respondent held a photo shoot for several of its news anchors to be used in promotional pieces. During this shoot, on information and belief, the female anchors were told to be more “sexy.” On information and belief, male anchors were not instructed to be sexy.

We’ve seen a lot of sexual harassment suits that either get thrown out quickly, or quickly settle. Since Sindland was suing a news organization, you had to figure that if there was any merit to Sindland’s claims, Fox 61 would pay and make the issue go away.

Yet here we are, over a year later, and Sindland’s claims just keep chugging along…

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Ed. note: The following piece was authored by The Legal Tease, of Sweet Hot Justice fame. Check out her other musings from Sweet Hot Justice here.

Quick question: You’re a single guy, let’s say in your late twenties to mid-thirties, with a decent job. Given the choice between the following two single women to date, which one do you choose?

Choice A: A real-world-hot 28-year-old receptionist on her fourth job in three years, who lives with two roommates in a fifth-floor walkup in some outer borough, aspires to someday have a job that gives her either free shoes or health insurance, and only sounds like an idiot when she speaks out loud.

Choice B: A real-world-hot 28-year-old BigLaw lawyer (I know, just go with me here) who paid off her school debt by herself in three years, lives alone in a doorman building in Manhattan, is funny and down-to-earth, and runs a small, successful side business selling artisanal cupcakes that she bakes in her spare time.

Clearly, you choose Choice A. Why? Because, if the status quo in my firm … and in my life… and in my friends’ lives… and in any bar from New York to L.A. is any indication, a law degree confers about as much romantic value to a single woman as a meth habit and a hidden penis.

Don’t believe me?

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Today Am Law released an exhaustive report about female equity partners at major law firms — equity partners, not to be confused with non-equity partners (who are really glorified associates that firms slap with the “partner” label in order to look good when folks like BBLP or Jezebel come calling). The numbers aren’t going to surprise any woman who is seriously considering a career in law.

But just because they’re not surprising doesn’t make them any less depressing. From the report:

The data compiled for this first systematic look at the issue is presented below. When we reviewed it, two numbers immediately jumped out. First, women make up only 17 percent of partners at the firms we surveyed, even though they have represented about 51 percent of law school graduates in the last 20 years. Second, of the women partners who work at multi-tier firms, 45 percent have equity status. In comparison, 62 percent of the male partners at these firms have equity.

Retention issue much? At 17 percent, you’re talking about a serious glass ceiling sitting on top of women at major law firms. With spikes pointing downard. And holes so small you can’t possibly fit squeeze through them if you are carrying any extra weight, or a baby….

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