In New Jersey and everywhere else in the United States, it is illegal to treat an employee differently based on their gender. It’s a requirement that policies and practices are the same for men as for women, and that includes issues of pay, promotion, and harassment in the workplace. Though some may think that gender discrimination only takes place in work environments where people are unfamiliar with the laws, that is not the case. There have recently been five gender bias lawsuits filed against some of the biggest law firms in the country.

Though each of these cases involves different specifics, they all share the same basic premise: female attorneys at every stage of their career and at every level, from associates through equity partners, have received lower pay than males, fewer promotions and opportunities, and in some cases have even been the victims of sexual harassment. Some of the women have already received settlement payments from their firms and some of the lawsuits are ongoing; in other cases, the women are considering class action lawsuits.

In one of the lawsuits, filed against law firm Chadbourne & Parke, three female attorneys who were all equity partners have claimed their former employer was operated as an “all male dictatorship” in which women partners were paid lower salaries and given less power to make decisions, regardless of how well the women performed or how much money they made for the firm. The firm, rather than defending against the claim or contradicting what the women have said, have argued that as equity partners they were not employees and therefore not entitled to anti-discrimination protections.

The most recent gender bias case involving a big-name law firm was brought by Constance Ramos, a former classmate of Barack Obama. Ramos was brought into law firm Winston & Strawn as an attorney and income partner, but her suit claims that was never treated as an equal, but rather as “an appendage of a male superior” and that once that male partner left, the firm forced her out. Her complaint reads in part, “I did not expect that a law partnership with Winston’s reputation would engage in discriminatory practices … I am especially devastated by the increasingly hostile work environment that this firm created in its bias against me, namely, the notion that my capabilities and worthiness as a lawyer depend solely upon whether certain male equity partners remain there. When I came to Winston, I expected to be evaluated on my own merits, assessed by my own accomplishments, and treated as an individual, not as an appendage of a male superior.” Ramos’ salary was repeatedly decreased despite her efforts, she was left out of meetings, and excluded from being able to work on cases in favor of male attorneys with lesser qualifications.

Unfair, discriminatory treatment can happen in any type of work environment, no matter how qualified, educated or professional. If you are being treated differently based on your gender, age, race or your status as a member of any other protected class, you need experienced legal representation. Call us today to learn more about your rights.