Gender Discrimination: This is Still a Thing

Gender Discrimination: This is Still a Thing

According to a May 12, 2017, American Lawyer article, Proskauer Rose is the latest in a long string of large law firms to be hit with a massive Gender Discrimination lawsuit. It is difficult to comprehend why this type of behavior persists in an era where female professionals (and professional school students) outnumber their male counterparts. That said, this latest lawsuit confirms what everyone already knew: this type of behavior perpetuates throughout the "old boys networks" of medical, legal and accounting firms and is not going away.

The complaint against Proskauer Rose alleges that a female partner in the firm was paid less than her male counterparts, subjected to an environment where harassment on the basis of sex was tolerated, and the plaintiff's efforts to take on a greater leadership role within the firm were rebuffed. Important to note, Proskauer Rose has a massive labor and employment law department that advises companies of all sizes on how to avoid these types of lawsuits. Suffice to say, the old term "practice what you preach" has never been a hallmark of law firms or their counterparts in the accounting or medical professions.

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As a male legal professional, I'll be the first to admit I don't think enough about the impact that gender discrimination has on professions and the economy as a whole. Even as someone who has spent a career advising employers on how to ensure that they stay out of these sort of situations, one tends to forget that gender discrimination is alive and real in the year 2017. It is quite sad that it takes a story like this to bring back into focus how widespread a problem gender discrimination in the workforce is.

I was discussing this issue with my wife in the car a couple of days ago, and the discussion led to her telling me about a story she had just heard regarding a professional acquaintance who was denied promotion to partner and was told outright that she wasn't a good fit for promotion because she 1) had a husband who made more than enough money; and 2) was likely to need too much time off to bear and raise children. I told my wife if this happened to her I would advise her to quit and sue the employer immediately.

The Proskauer Rose story and the one I just told highlight the stark contrast between "old boys networks" and forward-thinking employers who are invoking mandatory paid parental leave policies for parents of both sexes. The need for reform in gender discrimination is beyond ripe in that a great many female talents are being held back in their careers and denied the opportunity to advance professional thought forward because their bosses are stuck in an era that has long since passed. There is quantifiable data on the value derived from having professional leaders of both sexes, and an opportunity for increased diversity programs to prevent this sort of behavior from being allowed to perpetuate.

Has this article made you think about your current anti-discrimination training?  Do you have questions about your current compliance training program? Contact us and we can work with you to make recommendations to augment and/or improve your current offering.

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Written by Jonathan Gonzalez,  Esq., Senior Syntrio Counsel & Advisory Board Member

Posted in Code of Conduct, Compliance Training, Cybersecurity, Sexual Harassment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .