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Sedgewick Gender Bias Claim Headed to Mediation

Wednesday, November, 23, 2016

The dispute that arose from Traci Ribeiro’s claims that the law firm for which she worked committed gender discrimination is headed to arbitration. The ruling came from a federal judge in San Francisco, who found the firm’s partnership agreement called into question whether internal firm disputes are subject to arbitration. According to the six page order, Ribeiro “… had the requisite sophistication to understand” the provisions of the partnership agreement, which she had signed in February 2012.


Ribeiro sued the firm’s Chicago office in July on behalf of a proposed class of female employees. She claimed she was repeatedly denied a promotion to equity partner due to her gender, despite being the third-highest revenue generator at the firm. The suit was originally filed in state court in San Francisco, but later moved to federal court. Ribeiro also claims male associates are paid as much as $50,000 more than female colleagues within the firm.


Ribeiro spoke to reporters in October after a hearing and described her dispute in the contest of the wider struggle for women to receive equal pay in the legal industry. She noted a report that stated women partners make approximately 44 percent less than male partners.


According to Ribeiro’s attorney, the arbitration agreement his client signed does not apply to gender discrimination or laws related to the Equal Pay Act because of limits on discovery. Her attorney said he intends to press that argument to the judge now set to oversee the arbitration hearing. According to the judge’s recent ruling on arbitration, if the process fails to move forward, the court “… will consider lifting the stay.”