Several attorneys accuse partners at K&L Gates’ Pittsburgh office of sexual harassment, assault and gender discrimination
When most people consider the likely perpetrators of sexual harassment, assault and gender discrimination, they probably do not consider lawyers at a white shoe law firm. After all, if anyone knows better than to sexually harass their subordinates or discriminate against them on the basis of gender, it should be attorneys. Unfortunately, as a recent article by the Legal Intelligencer reveals, this is not the case.
According to the article, the law firm K&L Gates — an international law firm with over 1,800 lawyers, ranked as the 8th largest law firm in the United States — has a serious problem with sexual harassment and gender discrimination at its home office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Several former female K&L Gates lawyers alleged that they suffered sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the hands of certain male partners in the Pittsburgh office. In one case, a female attorney alleges that she was sexually assaulted by a male partner.
The firm settled at least three sexual harassment claims between 2002 and 2012. In each of the three cases, the female attorney left the firm while the male partner was kept by the firm. In addition, the system maintained by the firm for obtaining work left many women vulnerable to gender discrimination. Female attorneys who took maternity leave were often penalized, struggling to find work after they returned and then receiving poor performance reviews. Another female attorney reported that she was sexually assaulted by a senior male partner at a firm event. She did not report the assault out of fear of retaliation. When he later knocked on her hotel room door at a different firm event, she reported him; the firm sent him to her office alone to apologize to her. His employment was not terminated. This same attorney was later groped by a different lawyer at a separate firm event.
While the scope of the sexual harassment and gender discrimination detailed in this article may be shocking, it is far too common in workplaces across the United States. The fact that this level of harassment and discrimination is taking place among lawyers demonstrates what far too many workplace discrimination attorneys know firsthand: that this type of conduct can happen anywhere, to anyone, and by anyone.
Under both federal and state law, it is illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of sex, and to subject employees to sexual harassment. Sexual assault is also a criminal offense. If you have been subjected to sexual harassment or discrimination at work, you may be able to file a legal claim.
The lawyers of PLBSH work with our clients to help them achieve the best possible results for their claims. Contact us today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation with an experienced workplace discrimination attorney.