Female Partners of Chadbourne Push Back Against Class Action Complaint

Rose Asaf

Last Friday, we reported on Kerrie Campbell’s class action complaint against Chadbourne & Parke LLP.  Ms. Campbell, through her attorneys, Sanford Heisler, LLP, alleges that Chadbourne’s female partners “have been disparately underpaid, systematically shut out of Firm leadership, demoted, de-equitized and terminated.” Not all female partners in Chadbourne, however, agree with those allegations, which has prompted pushback against Ms. Campbell and Sanford Heisler, LLP.

In a letter addressed to David Sanford, a founding partner of Sanford Heisler, 14 female partners from Chadbourne expressed that Campbell’s complaint does not properly characterize their experiences with Chadbourne. In their attack, the women state that Sanford Heisler “did not make our voices heard…but rather have attempted to silence us.” The letter asserts that the complaint “makes a group of very accomplished, assertive and intelligent professional women look like they are victims unable to hold their own with their male colleagues.” The female partners also criticize Sanford Heisler for not reaching out to them before filing the suit.

In response, Mr. Sanford explained that New York’s anti-solicitation laws prohibit him from reaching out to possible clients. Furthermore, as the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog reported, Mr. Sanford affirmed that “women who don’t want to participate in the action will have the opportunity… to exercise those wishes,” by opting out of the action as the case progresses. Mr. Sanford challenged the relevance of the letter in regard to the substance of the actual complaint. “Nothing in [the] letter contradicts the core allegations in the complaint,” Mr. Sanford declared. He suggested that the women behind the letter are attempting to “stay in good standings with the powers that be” at Chadbourne, the same powers that Ms. Campbell claims to retaliate “against female attorneys who question the firm’s gender discrimination practices.”

The discord between Ms. Campbell and other female partners from Chadbourne & Parke LLP is not an isolated incident and should not discourage anyone who has experienced workplace discrimination from speaking up. It is important to remember that each employee has unique experiences within a firm or company and that a colleague’s experience does not invalidate your own.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against at work because of your gender, please contact The Harman Firm, LLP.