As published in 

Sedgwick Partner Settles In Gender Discrimination Suit

By Melissa Daniels

 

Law360, Los Angeles (June 23, 2017, 6:55 PM EDT) -- A partner who sued Sedgwick LLP for gender-based discrimination has agreed to drop her putative class action in California federal court after reaching a settlement with the firm, according to a filing on Thursday.

Chicago-based nonequity partner Traci Ribeiro filed a proposed class action last summer that alleged systemic gender-based discrimination and a male-dominated culture where women earned less and didn’t advance as far as men.

Earlier this year, the parties held a meeting with mediator David Rotman in San Francisco that resulted in a provisional settlement. Negotiations continued and then an arbitrator overseeing the case approved the agreement, according to a joint stipulation of dismissal filed on Thursday.

Arbitrator Robert A. Baines, a retired Superior Court judge, granted the parties joint motion for an order last Monday that dismisses Ribeiro’s class and collective allegations without prejudice, according to Thursday’s filing. The agreement also approves an unspecified settlement agreement and dismisses claims asserted in an operative complaint and arbitration demand.

Ribeiro’s suit isn’t the only recent action against a BigLaw firm bringing claims of gender discrimination. Earlier this year, Proskauer Rose LLP was sued by an anonymous partner alleging pay inequities, and Chadbourne & Parke LLP is facing a proposed $100 million gender bias action filed last year. 

After Ribeiro filed her complaint, Sedgwick quickly removed the suit to federal court and sought arbitration under the terms of an alternative dispute resolution provision in the firm partnership agreement.

In November, U.S. District Judge Alsup sent the case to arbitration, although he previously bemoaned the likelihood of doing so at an October hearing. He said that although he does not agree with the trend to send cases like this in front of “faceless arbitrators,” he would most likely side with Sedgwick because of recent Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have strengthened the Federal Arbitration Act’s influence.

Once in front of a JAMS arbitrator, the complaint was revised. According to a copy of an amended complaint in January, the case added California and Illinois subclasses, allegations that Sedgwick has since promoted two men to equity partner whoare not as qualified as Ribeiro since she filed original suit, and also sought $25 million in back wages, $25 million in compensatory damages and $150 million in punitive damages.

A representative for Ribeiro declined to comment on Friday. Representatives for the firm didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ribeiro is represented by David Sanford, Xinying Valerian and Danielle Fuschetti of Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP.

Sedgwick LLP is represented by Nick C. Geannacopoulos, G. Daniel Newland and Emily Barker of Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

The case is Traci Ribeiro v. Sedgwick LLP, case number 3:16-cv-04507, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

--Additional reporting by Matthew Guarnaccia, Cara Bayles, Andrew Strickler and Vin Gurrieri. Editing by Stephen Berg.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed counsel for Ribeiro and misspelled Danielle Fuschetti's name. The errorshas been corrected.