New York, NY: Female attorneys at Greenberg Traurig LLP face gender discrimination in pay and promotional opportunities throughout the country. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, after years of investigating Greenberg Traurig, concluded in June 2012 that there is (1) "reasonable cause" to support class-wide claims of gender discrimination in compensation; (2) reasonable cause to support claims that women are treated less favorably in the terms and conditions of their employment; and (3) reasonable cause to support an allegation of retaliation.
Those instances of gender discrimination are at the heart of a $200 million class action complaint filed against Greenberg Traurig in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by Sanford Heisler, LLP, a leading national plaintiffs' law firm.
"Greenberg Traurig's closed compensation system and 'good old boy' culture allows gender discrimination to thrive and flourish. The EEOC's rare finding of class-wide discrimination at the firm confirms that it is time to shine a light on Greenberg Traurig's damaging practices, level the playing field and facilitate merit-based advancement for women at the firm," said David Sanford, Chairman of Sanford Heisler.
Plaintiff Francine F. Griesing, a former partner at Greenberg Traurig, is a cum laude graduate of The University of Pennsylvania Law School with more than 30 years of experience representing clients in complex litigation, dispute resolution, business counseling and government affairs. She has received numerous awards from national and community organizations for her legal accomplishments and community leadership. After joining Greenberg Traurig in 2007, she was relegated to the lowest shareholder status. Although Ms. Griesing was an exceptional performer at the firm, she was discriminatorily denied the compensation, promotions, support and rewards enjoyed by the firm's less productive and less competent male shareholders. She was ultimately terminated for her continued gender discrimination complaints to Richard Rosenbaum, the firm's CEO, in 2009.
"Ms. Griesing is, by any measure, impressive," explained Mr. Sanford. "Her reputation and accomplishments speak for themselves, and it is because of Ms. Griesing's bravery and dedication that, one day soon, women at Greenberg Traurig can hope to have an equal opportunity to be rewarded for their achievements and success."
According to today's Complaint, Greenberg Traurig routinely discriminates against current and potential female shareholders in hiring, promotion and compensation. All of its compensation and other employment decisions nationwide are made by CEO Richard Rosenbaum, who during a conversation about Ms. Griesing's compensation, derided the female partners in the firm's Philadelphia office as "worthless." In turn, the firm compensated its female shareholders as though they were, in fact, worth less. The head of Greenberg Traurig's Women's Initiative informed Ms. Griesing that women at the firm have to wait years to "catch up" to their male counterparts as a result of the firm's discriminatory practices. The firm's male management claimed that certain male shareholders "needed the money" more than female shareholders because the men had families to support, and responded to Ms. Griesing's concerns about unfair practices by telling her she was "lucky to have a job" and that it was "unseemly" to complain about money.
"The legal profession has been, ironically, a bastion of gender discrimination," commented Katherine Kimpel, Managing Partner of the DC office of Sanford Heisler. "While women make up 45% of law firm associates, only 15% of equity partners generally and less than 10% of equity partners at Greenberg Traurig are women. This case not only will force Greenberg Traurig to clean up its house but also should encourage other large law firms to turn a critical eye to the way they treat their own female attorneys. The time for women attorneys to work twice as hard for half the reward is long past."
The Class is comprised of the hundreds of female Greenberg Traurig shareholders who have been or will be employed by the firm from 2007 until the date of the judgment. Ms. Griesing seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, nominal, liquidated and punitive damages and attorneys fees, costs and expenses to redress Greenberg Traurig's pervasive and discriminatory policies, practices and procedures on behalf of herself and the Class and brings individual claims for the firm's retaliation up to and including its termination of her employment.