Shelly Sindland Fox 61.JPGThere is an interesting employment discrimination complaint coming out of Connecticut today. A local news anchor claims that she was discriminated against due to her age and gender by Fox 61 (which is owned by the Tribune Company).
The forty-year-old Shelly Sindland (pictured) claims that she was the most senior reporter at the local news channel. But she claims that prestigious assignments and promotional considerations were given to younger women. Sindland also alleges that the Fox 61 working environment was less than ideal.
When reached for comment by the Connecticut Employment Law Blog, Sindland’s attorney had this to say about her client’s situation:

As her complaint affidavit alleges, Fox 61 actively encourages younger women to ‘be sexy,’ and favors younger women and men of all ages over older, more experienced female on-air news professionals. It is always a difficult decision for someone who is still employed to file a complaint against their employer, particularly in this industry. The issues in the complaint have been raised by Shelly and others internally without any corrective action, however, and as a result, Shelly felt it was appropriate at this point to file a formal complaint with the Commission.

How inappropriate was the behavior at Fox 61? Sindland’s complaint alleges the following:

* On or about January 30, 2009, during a meeting with reporters and anchors, on information and belief, 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, 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.

This complaint is definitely “hot.” After the jump we have more excerpts from the complaint, and of course, pictures.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawsuit of the Day: ‘Big Boob Friday’ Is A Problem? Who Knew?”

cadwalader strip club summer associate outing.jpgSummer associates have landed at offices across the nation. They’re working harder this year, even if some of the work is fake, and they’re eating out less often. But the Biglaw recruits are still having fun — sometimes too much fun.

We’ve been asking you about the big events for this year’s summers — concerts, movie previews, booze cruises, etc. Look out for contest finalists soon!

Cadwalader may have already established itself as a front runner in the competition. Last week, the firm took its summers to see a Mets game. Afterwards, some of the attorneys and summers went from Shea to shady. [FN1] From a knowledgeable source:

After the game, some of the male associates took some of the male summers out for some “after-event” bonding. The problem with this bonding is that it was a trip to the strip club. I’m not sure if the firm knew about the afterparty event or if it was sanctioned by or expensed to the firm, but this certainly seems to send a message of exclusion to women; or at least — even if any female summers attended (which none did) — that the firm not only tolerated but supported the objectification / degradation of women that occurs at these venues.

The firm was aware of the outing, but it doesn’t support these Cadwalader cads. The official response, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Stripped-Down Summer Associate Event at Cadwalader”

minority women partners not.JPGAmerican Lawyer has released another report that shows that while women make up a significant percentage of Biglaw associates, they are under-represented in law firm partnership ranks:

And while the ranks of female partners have grown steadily, women still account, on average, for fewer than one in five big-firm partners. The greatest numbers of female lawyers remain concentrated at the associate level.
At the same time, it’s worth pointing out the wide variation among firms when it comes to female head count. Despite the laggards, some firms–such as Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; and Ropes & Gray–are nearing the 50 percent mark in their overall percentage of women lawyers. Even better, at a few other large firms–including Littler Mendelson, Ice Miller, Arent Fox, and Epstein Becker & Green–women make up at least a quarter of the partnership.

The disparity is most clearly seen when we talk about leverage:

Crunching the numbers further tells a more interesting story. Of the female lawyers we counted, what percentage are partners? In other words, are women reaching the senior levels of a firm in proportion to their overall numbers? To find out, we calculated the number of female partners as a percentage of all women lawyers. We found that at the firms surveyed, about 23 percent of female lawyers were in the partnership ranks. For every women who’s made partner, there are three women in the nonpartner ranks.
That 3:1 leverage among female lawyers is double the leverage among all lawyers–male and female–in the firms surveyed. Nationally, we found that 41 percent of all lawyers are partners: For each partner, there are about 1.5 nonpartners. If one looks just at male lawyers, the leverage essentially vanishes: There is about one male nonpartner for each male partner.

The report also exposes a somewhat obvious fact: firms that tend to be good for female attorneys don’t necessarily score highly on other diversity factors.
More details from the report after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Women in Law: Crunching the Numbers”

Women lawyers pay.JPGIs it national “women in Biglaw” month and nobody told me? Yesterday, we learned that women who don’t put their careers on hold in order raise children can expect a similar salary to their male counterparts. A few days ago we learned that women hate working for other women. A couple of weeks ago, we had a story about alleged gender bias on the board of the Cardozo law review.
Isn’t there a sporting event or contest of some kind I can go watch? I’m happy to drag my knuckles all the way to my cave.
In any event, a new study out today shows that a large number of women are very dissatisfied with their jobs:

Dissatisfaction with work-life balance is pushing women lawyers in New Jersey out the door and into new jobs, a survey has found.
Most of the respondents–almost two-thirds–said they were satisfied with their ability to integrate their work and personal lives and the predictability of their hours, according to a press release. But the numbers were different for women lawyers who had changed jobs in the last five years. More than 70 percent of the job-hopping lawyers said their previous employer was not supportive of full-time flexible alternatives, while only 30 percent described their current employer as unsupportive of such arrangements.
“An important new finding of this study is that women lawyers often choose an exit strategy when faced with the dilemma of choosing between work and family obligations,” the study said. “The business case for more family-friendly approaches to the practice of law could not be more clear.”

In a perfect world, a more family-friendly approach would seem like an excellent business idea.
But in the world wrecked by the current economy, firms are actively trying to force attrition. You’d hope that the attrition would be gender neutral, but at this point everybody who voluntarily leaves a firm is one less person that will show up on Layoff Tracker.
After the jump, Legal Blog Watch points out that even when women do jump from one job to another, the grass is often just as dull.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What Women Want … At Least In New Jersey”

Biglaw parents.JPGA new study shows that women who have children — but don’t put their careers on hold to raise the kids — perform just as well as men when it comes to salary and partnership prospects:

A study of data concerning graduates of the University of Michigan Law School showed no significant difference between men and women who had children yet didn’t interrupt their careers or work part-time to take care of them. However, it revealed a significant gap between those attorneys and their colleagues–both male and female–who put their careers on pause for several years to stay home with the kids, says law professor Kenneth Dau-Schmidt of Indiana University at Bloomington.
“Gender was secondary, and much less important, than whether they had interrupted their careers to do child care,” he tells the ABA Journal.

This is excellent news for nannies and au pairs everywhere.
On Monday, we asked readers if this was a terrible time to have a child. Over 60% thought having a kid wasn’t the best idea in this economy. But maybe many of your were assuming that if you had a kid you’d have to feed it or talk to it or something.
Apparently that is not the case. And if you outsource the child rearing, there might not be any deleterious professional consequences.
Of course, women that take significant time off to spend with their young children can get something a little more intangible than money.
More notes after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Gender Gap Disappears If You Just Keep Working”

Female attorneys above the law.jpg* We are not the only ones talking about the problems women have with each other at the office. The New York Times says women bully women. [New York Times]
* Ex-Judge of the Day Hall of Famer Samuel Kent, the first federal judge to be charged with a sex crime, will be sentenced today. He could have gone to the big house for up to 20 years, but his two decades on the bench have made him sentence-savvy. He’ll face three years max thanks to a plea agreement. [Houston Chronicle]
* Former Ohio AG Marc “the Dannimal” Dann has found a new niche. [Legal Newsline]
* A cobbled-together article suggesting that suicide is a trend for stressed attorneys. [National Law Journal]
* Every move you make, every turn you take. A Wisconsin appeals court says the police can slap a GPS tracking device on your car. No warrant needed. [CNet]
* SCOTUS, SCOTUS, SCOTUS. Trying to get into President Obama’s head when it comes to his judiciary thinking. [New York Times]
* White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel may be heading up the SCOTUS nominee search but Vice President Joe Biden is enjoying his grand poobah role in the process. [Washington Post]
* The gambling odds on the nominees. Sotomayor’s the favorite with odds of 13-8. Michelle Obama’s odds? 500-1. [Fox News]
* A guide to the YouTube moments of potential SCOTUS nominees — gaffes and brilliance. Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s clip is the “best” of the bunch — short, concise, and damaging. [Slate]
* The New York Times wants readers to pick Souter’s replacement. Vote Lat! [The New York Times]

Female attorneys above the law.jpgThe debate over the merits (or demerits) of having a female boss is a perennial one. Well, maybe not perennial, but has been going strong in recent decades since skirt suits on bosses have become the norm.
The American Lawyer sticks its toe in the perilous gender waters in an article in this month’s issue: The End of Sisterhood. In its sure-to-make-you-angry-if-you’re-XX intro, Vivia Chen says that female partners, counsel, associates, and staff attorneys are talking about gender equality while bonding over “sushi, cosmos, and the occasional mani/pedi treatment.”
After they imbibe too many cosmos though and the truth starts flowing, things might get a bit uncomfortable:

[S]cratch the surface a bit deeper, and some members of the sorority tell another story: that women–particularly their immediate superiors–can be their worst tormentors. Fact is, despite the veneer of harmony and the decades of shared struggle, there’s tension on the women’s front. Talk to any group of women lawyers, and there will be plenty of war stories on the betrayals–real or perceived–that they have experienced at the hands of other women.

Sounds promising, right? But there are no juicy cat fights in the story. Just statistics. If you have stories, feel free to share in the comments.
After the jump, we’ll tell you more about why women don’t like working for other women.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Women Expect Too Much Empathy From Female Partners”

Cardozo school of law logo.JPGWe’ve been bringing you a number of stories about law students melting down as the recession, finals, swine flu, and a spate of year-end elections takes its toll on America’s next generation of lawyers.

The latest missive comes from a female Cardozo student who accuses the Cardozo law review board of gender bias. It turns out that this student lost an election to be Editor-in-Chief of the Cardozo law review.

But it also turns out that the executive board of the Cardozo law review has no female members.

The situation is so surprising that school officials have organized a meeting of all the law review 2Ls to discuss this matter. Unfortunately, the student who lost the Editor-in-Chief election will not be able to attend. Fortunately (for Above the Law readers), she decided to commit her thoughts to email:

I believe the journal does have a problem with gender bias in elections that we should address. It was striking that, for the second year in a row, the executive board does not have a single female member. It also stands out that, of all the editorial board positions with input into the article selection process for both the Law Review and de novo, not a single position is held by a woman.

The all-male composition of the most influential positions on the editorial board is at odds with the composition of the journal. It is also at odds with the objective performance of the female members of the staff. Of the thirty-seven Vol. 30 staffers, sixteen (43%) are women and twenty-one (57%) are men. The results of the blind Note-selection process mirror these statistics: of the sixteen Notes selected for publication in Vol. 31, seven (44%) were authored by female staffers and nine (56%) were authored by male staffers. Statistics are not available by which I could objectively assess the quality of staffers’ C&Sing work. However, the Note publication rates suggest that, when blind judging is applied, female staffers perform as well as male staffers. This objective fact regarding the quality of female staffers’ Notes is not reflected by the results of the past election. I believe there were well-qualified female candidates for the executive board and other editorial board positions who were overlooked.

Are law reviews still just an elaborate old boy network? You’d think not, you’d hope not, but this student provides other compelling stats after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Gender Bias on the Cardozo Law Review?”

santosh potdar.jpgA fun part of traveling is observing “cultural differences.” It’s okay to pick your nose in public in some parts of Kenya, to comment on someone’s significant weight gain in the Philippines, and to burp mid-meal in India. The practices may not be your cup of tea, but that’s the fun of exploring other cultures. But what about a culture of gender discrimination in the workplace?

A group of female hospital administrative staff have filed a lawsuit in Ohio against Summa Health Systems and Dr. Santosh Potdar alleging gender discrimination. Among their allegations against the doctor, from the complaint:

  • Potdar referred to them as a “Bunch of B*tches,” “Hormonal Messes,” and a “F*cking Lesbian.”
  • Potdar “[made] gender-based, derogatory and offensive statements and display[ed] gender animus by stating, among other things, that ‘women should not work outside the home’ and by telling one Plaintiff that ‘he feels sorry for her husband that he has to deal with you’ and ‘he feels sorry for her father that he had only daughters.”
  • Potdar “subject[ed] Plaintiffs to verbal attacks, insults, degradation and humiliation, including, among other things, calling them a ‘Bunch of Monkeys.’”

    So we assume Potdar would prefer to have the hospital populated with Gaylord Fockers.

    Our favorite part of this lawsuit is the defense put forth by the hospital, according to the plaintiffs. From the complaint:

    Summa’s Human Resources Department told Plaintiffs that they were “working on it” and, at one point, they attributed Dr. Potdar’s treatment of women to “cultural” differences.

    We’re unsure where Potdar is from — according to the press release announcing his arrival, he was previously head of a medical center in Pennsylvania — but apparently he’s been listening to too much Jay-Z. Summa has not yet filed an answer, but we do hope the hospital’s lawyers come up with a better defense than “cultural differences.”

    Complaint from Summit County Clerk of Courts

    Case Details [Summit County Clerk of Courts via Courthouse News Service]

  • Sue for Women in Litigation.jpgTimes are tough for we media folk these days. Newspapers across the country are declaring bankruptcy, magazines are dying, and Atlantic Magazine has even predicted the end of the New York Times.

    Given the challenging environment for journalism, we thought you might be worried about the fates of Sue: For Women in Litigation and KNOW: A Magazine for Paralegals. We know you have a special interest in Sue since one of you ATL readers was responsible for naming the magazine.

    Though the magazine’s publisher, Chere Estrin of EstrinLegalEd, filed for Chapter 11 in December (Bankruptcy Petition # 2:08-bk-32520-BR), the magazines struggle on. We surfed over to their websites and discovered that KNOW is down to 6 issues per year, and that Sue just released its inaugural issue, albeit a digital version only. According to the website:

    Sue is a 100-percent digital publication. It looks just like a hard-copy magazine except that you will view it on your PC. You can even ‘turn’ the pages. The inaugural edition is Feb./Mar. 2009.

    Well, that sounds snazzy. We didn’t get a chance to peruse the digital mag, but it must be good given its endorsements. The homepage proclaims:

    Sue Magazine has been recognized in AmLaw Online; The National Law Journal; The ABA Journal; Above The Law and other prestigious publications.

    We’ve been called many things, but prestigious is a new one.

    Earlier: Move over Marie Claire and Elle, Sue’s coming to town

    We Don’t KNOW How This Magazine for Paralegals Will Do

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