Samuel Cordes

JoEllen Lyons Dillon

Back in December, we covered a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by JoEllen Lyons Dillon, a comely corporate partner at Reed Smith, against the firm (where she still worked at the time). Dillon’s allegations were salacious. She claimed, for example, that “work was diverted … to female attorneys who were willing to engage in sexual relations with members of management” — and that her refusal to engage in such relations hurt her at Reed Smith.

Dillon’s case was filed by Samuel J. Cordes, a prominent Pittsburgh employment lawyer. Despite his somewhat cheesy law firm motto, Cordes is well-regarded and seen as “only tak[ing] good cases,” according to one ATL tipster. Cordes promised that his client would, over the course of the litigation, produce specific examples of sexual quid pro quos at Reed Smith. Delicious!

Alas, today brings word that JoEllen Dillon has dropped her case. What happened?

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JoEllen Lyons Dillon

Pennsylvania legal circles are buzzing over a discrimination lawsuit filed yesterday in federal district court by a partner in the Pittsburgh office of Reed Smith. One source who informed us of the suit referred to “some really interesting allegations” against the firm.

A corporate and energy law partner at Reed Smith, JoEllen Lyons Dillon, alleges that her firm pays and promotes women less than men. Yawn; that’s definitely not “really interesting.” While unfortunate — or even outrage-inducing — if true, one could say the same thing about dozens, if not hundreds, of large law firms.

Far more interesting is Dillon’s claim that “work was diverted … to female attorneys who were willing to engage in sexual relations with members of [Reed Smith] management or with whom members of [Reed Smith] management had sought to engage in such relations.” Dillon alleges that because she “did not engage in such relations,” she was professionally penalized.

David DeNinno

Dillon decided instead to have “relations” with her husband, resulting in the birth of twins. After she took time off to take care of the two tots, “her total compensation decreased, by almost half,” according to the complaint. Dillon claims that when she objected to this pay cut, partner David DeNinno, former chair of the Business & Finance Department at RS, asked if she was “done having babies yet.”

That’s just for starters. Dillon claims to have more dirt on her firm….

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