Law firm Ogletree Deakins is named in a $300 million gender discrimination class action

Posted on: January 19th, 2018 by Steve Larson

A shareholder in Ogletree Deakins’ Orange County office has filed suit against the law firm alleging the firm’s male-dominated leadership disproportionately favors men over women in pay, promotions and business development opportunity. The complaint alleges that women hold only two of nine seats on Ogletree’s board of directors and two of six firm officer positions. The complaint also alleges that compensation decisions are controlled by a male-dominated compensation committee and then voted upon by Ogletree’s equity shareholders, which are about 80 percent male.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit is an employment attorney who has practiced at Ogletree for more than 12 years representing employers. The plaintiff also filed a separate complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that the parties do not have a valid arbitration agreement in place that waives the employee’s rights to pursue a class action and obligates both parties to arbitrate her gender discrimination claims. The firm put its arbitration policy in place in 2016 and the plaintiff claims she never signed it.

In the class action, the plaintiff seeks to represent about 100 non-equity shareholders nationwide. The complaint alleges that Ogletree promoted only one woman to the equity tier for 2017.

The case is Knepper v. Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart PC, case numbers 3:18-cv-00303 and 3:18-cv-00304, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.