Articles Posted in Collective/Class Action

Three associates at Morrison & Foerster have filed a would-be $100 million class-action suit that claims the firm maintains a “family-friendly façade” even as it discriminates against lawyer moms.

The lawyers filed the suit Monday in San Francisco federal court.

The suit claims that female lawyers who return from maternity leave are not promoted with the rest of their associate class, resulting in lower pay. In addition, the suit says, the firm creates unrealistic work expectations for lawyer moms while giving them insufficient work and opportunities to meet those expectations.

The suit alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Equal Pay Act, and California laws regarding equal pay, fair employment and family rights.

The three plaintiffs, all California associates, are identified as Jane Does 1, 2 and 3.

According to the suit, Morrison & Foerster boasts of its work-life programs, including parental leave, parental transition time upon returning to the firm, flexible work options and reduced-hours work.

But the reality “is far from the firm’s family-friendly façade,” the suit says. “MoFo may allow maternity leave on paper, but when women take advantage of the firm’s ‘generous’ maternity leave, or notify the firm that they have children, they are routinely held back and set up to fail.”

The suit goes on to say that when female lawyers become mothers, Morrison & Foerster demands they prove their commitment by working more hours. Then, when the lawyer moms seek more work, “they are denied assignments because of stereotype-driven perceptions that they lack commitment to their jobs. The stereotype becomes self-reinforcing, and women become stuck.”

All three plaintiffs said that after they returned from maternity leave, they discovered through the firm’s online portal that they had not been promoted with the rest of their associate class. Yet the firm increased their external billing rates, an issue that “was rectified” after two of the associates complained.

When she first joined the firm, Jane Doe 1 says, one of her supervising partners told her “parents tend not to do well in this group.” The partner also allegedly told Doe “we didn’t realize you were a parent when we extended you the offer,” even though Doe was up-front about having a child in conversations with three partners and human resources. The partner who made the comments about parenthood gave Jane Doe 1 fewer opportunities than lawyers without children, the suit says.

Women make up about 46 percent of Morrison & Foerster’s associates, but only about 22 percent of the firm’s 248 partners, the suit says.

In a statement, a Morrison & Foerster spokesperson said the firm “has a long and proven track record of supporting and advancing our associates as they return from maternity leave. We vigorously dispute this claim and are confident that the firm will be vindicated.”

Three-quarters of women entering the workforce today will become pregnant at least once while employed, and many will work throughout their pregnancies. There are several federal laws that have been enacted as a means of preventing discrimination against pregnant employees. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act all provide some means of protection for pregnant workers. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities act was specifically amended in 2008 to include impairments that may arise in pregnancy including hypertension, diabetes and severe nausea.

Cases similar to this one occur all too often. If you feel that you or someone you know has been discriminated against in the workplace, then it is important that you get in touch with our Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton. We will listen to your case, and fight to get you any financial compensation you deserve for what you have been through. We routinely handle collective and class action lawsuits as well.

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A man has filed a collective-action lawsuit against an Orlando business for alleged unpaid overtime wages.

The man filed a complaint on Aug. 1 in the Orange County Circuit Court, alleging that the business failed to pay its employees the proper wage for all hours they worked.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that he and other similarly situated employees have suffered loss of earnings for allegedly not being paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for working more than 40 hours per week.

The man holds the business responsible for allegedly failing to determine if employees were properly compensated and for allegedly not keeping accurate time records.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides for collective action lawsuits against employers for minimum wage and overtime pay violations. To proceed as a collective action under the FLSA, employees must be “similarly situated,” which refers to employees subject to a common policy, plan or design that fails to compensate employees for minimum wage or overtime pay.

Employees must “opt in” to the lawsuit, which means they must affirmatively sign a document stating they want to proceed collectively. Usually one or more employees will initiate the lawsuit on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated. When other employees are given notice of the lawsuit, they can decide how they would like to proceed.

If you have a wage dispute with your employer, our Florida Unpaid Wage & Overtime Lawyers at Whittel & Melton to protect your rights. We can help you file a collective or class action lawsuit to obtain unpaid bonuses, commissions, and vacation pay as well as overtime and minimum wage.

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A Broward County tax return preparer pleaded guilty recently to conspiring to file and filing fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

According to documents filed with the court, the 41-year-old man owned two tax preparation businesses in Lauderhill with two other men.

From approximately 2010 through 2016, the three men apparently filed fraudulent returns for their clients seeking refunds to which the clients were not entitled, by reporting fictitious business income, fraudulent education and fuel tax credits and claiming deceased individuals as dependents. They also filed returns in the names of individuals whose identities had been stolen. The man apparently admitted to causing a tax loss of more than $550,000.

The man is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 6. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy count and a maximum sentence of three years in prison on the false return count. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

The other two men involved are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 22.

The Tax fraud involved in the above discussed scheme involve some sort of data breach to gain access to employee’s W-2’s. There are several simple things you can do to avoid being victimized and protect your employees’ data, including::

  • Control access to payroll data and other sensitive information. Make sure that only people who really need sensitive data information have access to it. Limiting who can see this information, can eliminate any breaches.
  • Consider requiring a second step to authenticate requests for sensitive data before it can be released. A lot of these breaches happen when employees divulge other employees’ W-2 information to criminals. Should someone request W-2 information, it is beneficial to implement protocol that that employee speak to the person requesting the information before releasing it.
  • Make employees aware of various scams circulating regarding data security. Arm your employees with any “red flag” information so that they know when something seems odd. Always encourage them to ask questions or get help if something does not seem right.

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