It was recently announced that in the Jones Day gender bias lawsuit a new plaintiff, currently a product counsel at Facebook and former Jones Day associate, has opted in.
Last month, the plaintiffs in the case put out a call to other former Jones Day associates to join their case. The plaintiffs claim that the firm has discriminated against women when it comes to pay. The allegations explain that the firm’s culture is deeply centered around men, which hinders women’s opportunities to advance, and that the secrecy around pay and pay decisions results in unequal pay.
Despite the #MeToo movement doing much to de-stigmatize women coming forward to report sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and much worse, it's not so unexpected that only one other former Jones Day attorney has come forward so far. Simply put, suing an employer (even a former one) is scary, even for lawyers. Not many people have the gumption to do it, and most are afraid that doing so will render them nearly unemployable in the future. Most think a new employer will likely be hesitant to hire someone who sued their last employer, whatever the reason may be.
It takes courage and fortitude to be an employment plaintiff, especially one fighting against a powerful company be it Biglaw, Big Tech, or anyone else. Unfortunately, for those former associates that don't want to step forward, they may not see any justice if the case is successful as it is a collective action, rather than a class action, which requires plaintiffs to actively opt-in to the litigation.
A significant issue in the case has been the anonymity of four of the six main plaintiffs in the case. Given the fear that most employment plaintiffs have of being blacklisted from future employment, the desire to remain anonymous seems reasonable.
Recently, Jones Day successfully sought to discover the unnamed plaintiffs’ identities, but that information has yet to be released publicly, and may not be unless the case goes to trial or a lawyer at the firm leaks the information, as the judge limited the purposes for which the names could be disclosed. And while the call for more plaintiffs hasn't resulted in a big turn out, there's still more time for that to change.