Vox has published an article highlighting the stories of several women currently involved in gender discrimination lawsuits against some of America’s top companies in the fight for equal pay.
Vox describes the case filed by Allison Gamba, who is suing her former employer, Goldman Sachs, along with two other women, all of whom accuse the firm of systematically paying women less than men.
“These cases represent a sea change in equal pay suits, which once were mostly filed on behalf of women working low-wage jobs in the retail industry,” observes Vox. Over the last decade, as noted by many legal experts, more and more professional white-collar women are taking their employers to court for gender and wage discrimination.
Lieff Cabraser partner and employment practice group chair Kelly M. Dermody, who represents Gamba and the other women in the Goldman Sachs suit, told Vox that what is happening now “hardly ever happened in the 1990s,” noting that “There’s a more robust sense of urgency now to challenge [systemic] misconduct in the workplace.”
Vox details Dermody’s career representing women in gender discrimination cases spanning over 25 years. Her first client, back in 1994, worked as a cashier at Home Depot. She had a college degree in plant sciences and experience working as a garden manager, but a younger man with no relevant experience was promoted to manage the store’s garden department instead.
The complaint turned into a much broader class action lawsuit that Home Depot settled for $87.5 million in 1998. Dermody noted that after the settlement, the company reformed its pay and promotion practices, which has allowed for more women to be hired into management positions.
But the fight is far from over. As Vox notes, “a spate of lawsuits against giants from Google and Twitter to Nike and Goldman Sachs reveals the growing frustrations of professional women in pursuit of the C-suite.” In spite of doing everything right, these women are still hitting a glass ceiling, and in the face of what seems like institutionalized intransigence on the part of the companies, are left with no recourse but to seek justice via the courts. They are permitted to rise to a certain mid-level, but no further. And when they complain, they are punished for it.
As Vox outlines, “According to court documents, one senior manager in Disney’s music publishing division found out that she was making $25,000 less than the lowest-paid man at her level. She’s been working there for 15 years. A footwear developer at Nike complained to human resources that she was paid far less than men in her position and says the HR manager accused her of ‘crying wolf.’ At Twitter, a software engineer said she was put on indefinite leave after complaining to the CEO about gender bias.”
The lawsuits filed by Dermody and others on behalf of these women represent a “sea change” in equal pay suits, a change that is long overdue.
About Kelly Dermody
The Chair of Lieff Cabraser’s employment practice group and Managing Partner of Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco office, Kelly M. Dermody specializes in class and collective actions on behalf of plaintiffs in employment and consumer cases, including gender discrimination cases against Google, Microsoft, KPMG and Goldman Sachs. Her additional case work includes wage suppression claims against technology, healthcare, and academic institutions; overtime and lost pay lawsuits for low-wage workers, I/T professionals, and foreign nationals working for American corporations; and ERISA claims that she has tried on behalf of employees and retirees for pension plan abuses.