Sexism

Pamela Levinson

You know what’s the mark of a good lawsuit against a law firm? The ability to polarize. Sure, it’s fun to laugh at the wacky ones, like Berry v. Kasowitz Benson or Morisseau v. DLA Piper. But the true classics are cases in which half the people think the plaintiff is a crusader for justice, and half the people think the plaintiff is an extortionist.

Take the 2007 lawsuit of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, brought by a young M&A lawyer claiming anti-gay discrimination. That was a great lawsuit. Some readers saw it as a Philadelphia for the 21st century, while others saw it as a shameless shakedown of a top law firm.

By this standard, Levinson v. WilmerHale is a good lawsuit. Readers can’t seem to agree on this one. Let’s check out the sharply divided opinions — and also hear more about Pamela Levinson, from former colleagues at the firm….

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Back in December, we wrote about a major employment discrimination case filed against Greenberg Traurig. That suit contained some salacious allegations, including claims that women lawyers had to sleep with superiors to get ahead.

Today brings news of another employment discrimination lawsuit filed against another top law firm. It’s being filed by the litigation boutique of Sanford Heisler LLP, which seems to be carving out a nice little niche in plaintiff-side Biglaw employment litigation.

Which firm is being sued this time, and what are the plaintiff’s allegations?

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You’ve got a pretty mouth.

So, as many of you have heard by now, Iowa’s Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous opinion which disguises lecherous workplace behavior as a valid legal avenue to terminate employees. You see, bosses can now fire employees whom they deem to be “irresistible attractions,” regardless of whether the employee has ever engaged in flirtatious behavior. In Iowa, it’s now completely acceptable for bosses to fire employees simply for having sex organs that they, in their managerial roles, are unable to use as they see fit. Dear God, you’ve got breasts? You’re so fired. Your ass looks good in slacks? Don’t even bother going back to the office.

This seems a bit sexist, but we suppose these kinds of things do happen when your state’s highest court is a huge sausage fest. And before you start whining about how unfair and discriminatory this is, don’t even bother, because it’s not. Iowa’s Supreme Frat House has decided that this is sort of behavior is controlled by feelings and emotions, not gender. This can’t possibly be gender discrimination, because bosses that want to bone their female employees shouldn’t be expected to control their feelings and emotions.

And it doesn’t matter if that same boss wouldn’t feel the same way about a male employee because of his gender, because the bros on Iowa’s most important bench don’t even care if this opinion makes sense….

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* Another year, another round-up of the year’s legal highlights from the National Law Journal. Perhaps after a year that was wracked with destruction for this supposedly noble profession, we’ll actually see some substantial change in 2013. [National Law Journal]

* Meanwhile in Iowa, failure to sleep with your horndog boss is “like having a Lamborghini in the garage and never driving it,” so if he’s irresistibly attracted to your exotic lady parts car, you better be ready, willing, and able to find yourself a new job. [Washington Post]

* People were so pissed off about Instagram’s new terms of service that someone filed a class action suit. The app’s litigation filter must make exasperated attorneys and wasted dollars look shiny and happy. [Reuters]

* “It is not the perfect path to wealth and success that people may have envisioned.” As we’ve been stating here at Above the Law for years, being a lawyer is no longer the golden ticket that it once was. [Bloomberg]

* ASU Law will now offer a North American Law Degree that’ll prepare graduates to practice in the U.S. and Canada. Yes, ship your jobless grads north where there’s an articling crisis, great idea! [Associated Press]

* Still thinking about applying to law school? That’s a funny joke. But if you’re interested in being a punchline in three years, follow this application season timeline. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* Jack Klugman, noted actor whose roles included that of Juror #5 in Twelve Angry Men, RIP. [New York Times]

* Richard Adams, a plaintiff in the first suit seeking federal recognition of gay marriage, RIP. [New York Times]

Of all the ways to say ‘I love you’ this is the most boring.

I hate diamonds. Besides oil, no natural resource is responsible for as much suffering. Wars are fought over diamonds, totalitarian regimes are propped up with diamond money. It all happens because of anachronistic cultural traditions that tell us women should be dressed and adorned like dolls.

Today, western women buy into the convention — because, well, that’s what happens when an entire people is hobbled by generations of unequal treatment — but do not forget that giving engagement diamonds to women is a holdover from a time when a man would pay to buy off the bride from her father. A holdover that has been amped up by the modern diamond industry. It’d be like if every time a white employer hired a black person, they got to strip him down and check his teeth… you know, for old times’ sake. “Here’s your price, now cook me something and be quick about it so I don’t have to beat you” — is what every woman should hear when she receives a shiny bauble for her ring finger.

Of course, my wife wears a diamond engagement ring, because I’m not a freaking hero. In this ridiculous world, even if the woman says “I’m not really into that diamond stuff,” you can’t really be sure and you don’t want to insult her or her family by proposing with a shared New York Times subscription (that made more sense back in the 90s, trust me). Luckily, my wife and I have been able to resist the nearly constant overtures from the diamond industry ever since. Even though every season the television tries to tell us that I just don’t love her very much unless I’m committing 25 percent of my yearly income in a constant shower of stones.

To call the diamond industry “evil” is no overstatement, as reflected in a new lawsuit….

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* It’s 12/12/12. Or as rational people call it, “just another Wednesday already, God.” [ABC News]

* Elizabeth Warren is going to be on the Senate Banking Committee. Boom. How ya like me now. [Reuters]

* Do women make better lawyers than men? For some reason this question made me want to make a really sexist joke. But I’m afraid of being yelled at by feminists. Afraid, like a little girl. [Law Frat]

* Verizon to take on copyright trolls. I hope this leads to a commercial with that Verizon T-Mobile 4G woman playing whack-a-mole in a sun dress. [Torrent Freak]

* You know what could keep us from falling off the fiscal cliff? The death tax. Mwahahaha. [Tax Prof Blog]

* SCOTUSblog is looking to hire a good law student or LL.M. student. Qualification #1: you should probably know what SCOTUS refers to. [SCOTUSblog]

* Lindsay Lohan had her probation revoked. If you are one of the people who care about this story, thus necessitating this mention of it, I hope bad things happen to you this holiday season. I’m serious, if you care about Lindsay Lohan, I hope Santa brings you herpes. [TMZ]

Parking is sooooo hard.

* “Biglaw Bonuses for Dummies: A Reference for the Rest of Us!” By Elie Mystal. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

* Just how quickly will state-by-state legal education be able to respond to changing market conditions? Thus far, both New York and California have proven themselves to be pretty damn nimble. [Legal Ethics Forum]

* Here’s a cute docket sheet entry from Judge Marcia Cooke in the Southern District of Florida. Thanks for not being a grinch this holiday season, Your Honor! [Southern District of Florida Blog]

* A town in Germany has started using “female friendly” parking spaces, because parking a car is just so hard for we womenfolk to do when we’re supposed to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. :( [Telegraph]

* Hiram Chodosh, once named as a law dean hottie, has been named the fifth president of Claremont McKenna College. Of course, the former title is cooler than the latter, don’t you think? [Sacramento Bee]

Women often get the short end of the stick when it comes to upward mobility in their careers. Despite the fact that firms claim to be rectifying these inequities, for every two steps forward the legal industry takes, women seem to be pushed two steps back. Be it smaller salaries or fewer leadership opportunities, women lawyers are usually left holding the bag. It’s almost as if they’ve got to make up for what they lack (dangling genitalia), in all of their dealings.

Women already have a hard enough time as it is without being unfairly subjected to unspoken policies that affect both firm politics and partnership decisions. But, such is life when you’ve thrust yourself into the wonderful world of Biglaw, where the “boys club” reigns supreme, and women are essentially railroaded into the pink ghetto.

How would you like to work for a firm where men hog all of the origination credit, and do their damnedest to exclude women from client pitches? How would you like to work for a firm where women are encouraged to have intimate relationships with firm leaders in order to be promoted?

That doesn’t sound like a friendly working environment, but that’s exactly what a $200 million class action suit against Greenberg Traurig alleges….

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I was not aware that see-through shirts and cleavage was the trademark of a good lawyer in New Zealand. Apparently I have a lot to learn about their judicial system.

– a comment left on Facebook in response to a picture used by LEX magazine to entice people to “like” the New Zealand Law Students Association (NZLSA) page on the social networking site.

(Read on to see the picture that’s being slammed as sexist by women lawyers the world over.)

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* BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 charges and pay $4.5B in fines, but before going through with it, several Biglaw firms helped the company sell off assets to fund litigation- and spill-related costs. [Am Law Daily]

* According to HBR Consulting, compensation for in-house attorneys has risen over the past year — including bonuses, which went up to $62,500. Sorry, but Biglaw isn’t following suit. [Corporate Counsel]

* It’s better to leave well enough alone: Pryor Cashman was ordered to pay more than $21K in legal fees for filing a frivolous motion over its repeated attempts to dismiss a case. [New York Law Journal]

* Judge Susan McDunn, who claimed that her “life [was] being ruined” by the secret lawsuits of many powerful Chicagoans, has resigned. Looks like her $182K salary wasn’t enough to buy crazy pills. [Chicago Tribune]

* James T. Hayes Jr., the ICE agent who accused his superior of subjecting male employees to her “sexually offensive behavior,” settled his discrimination lawsuit against the government for $175,000. [Washington Post]

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