The $100 million discrimination lawsuit filed against the New York-based international law firm Chadbourne & Parke over claims that female partners are paid less than their male counterparts is less about gender than employment status, according to Sarah Bradbury, senior counsel at Dallas litigation boutique Estes Thorne & Carr PLLC.
While it is becoming increasingly easy to create an employment relationship and characterize an independent contractor as an employee, an equity partner cannot be categorized as an ‘employee,’ making it very difficult to prevail in this case. However, if a similar lawsuit were brought by income level partners, it becomes a very different case. Gender pay disparity may be real at this particular firm specifically or within the legal profession generally. However, even if the disparity exists, in this instance, because the attorneys are not employees of the firm, they simply have no employment discrimination route to pursue, adds Ms. Bradbury, who is Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
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