Class Action Accuses Steptoe & Johnson Of Gender Bias


Publish Date:
June 27, 2017
  • Benedictis, Don
Courthouse News Service
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A former associate filed a national class action against Steptoe & Johnson, claiming the giant law firm pays only lip service to gender equality, but has a male-dominated leadership that discriminates against women in pay and promotions.

“Despite paying lip service to diversity in its workforce, and even counseling the firm’s own clients on policies to avoid pay discrimination, defendant Steptoe & Johnson LLP … subjects its female attorneys to unequal pay,” Ji-In Houck says in her federal lawsuit.

Stanford Law School Professor Deborah Rhode, who heads the school’s Center on the Legal Profession, said the raft of cases shows “the increased willingness of women who’ve been underpaid for decades to sue.”

She said it is no longer the case that women who sue over pay will be banned from practice. The plaintiff in the Sedgwick case is still at that firm. Houck is now an attorney with the Stalwart Law Group in Los Angeles.

Rhode also said the fact that Houck started at Steptoe as a contract attorney should not lessen her claims. “I can’t see that it would be a sufficient justification” for the pay disparity, Rhode said.

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