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Lawyer's High Profile Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Settles

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 23, 2016 10:59 AM

She said she was pregnant. Her boss responded:

"I guess these things happen. I suppose we have your honeymoon to blame for this?"

Between good friends it might have been uncomfortably funny, but between an associate attorney and her superior at a big law firm, not so much. It led to a gender bias lawsuit that has settled.

Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, a Massachusetts firm with more than 300 lawyers, announced it settled the case. Kamee Verdrager, who formerly worked at the Boston-based firm, filed her discrimination complaint in 2007. The firm denied any wrongdoing, but settled after an adverse ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in May that would have sent the case to trial.

Let's Auld Acquaintance Be Forgotten

The case had garnered unwanted media attention for Mintz, Levin, the third largest law firm in the state. It has been competing with other top firms for business by increasing new associate salaries to $180,000 this year and claiming a 15% increase in revenue the last year.

The lawsuit scared up ghosts from seasons past. In 2005, a federal appeals court ruled against Mintz, Levin in a retaliation case by a female attorney who said she was demoted and then fired because she complained about gender discrimination.

Verdrager said she was demoted based on her gender and pregnancy, then fired in retaliation for complaining. The firm fired her after finding out she was researching internal files about her claims to the state's anti-discrimination commission. In May, the state supreme court defended her right to search the firm files.

Confidential Settlement With a Twist

The settlement terms are confidential, but Mintz, Levin said it made a contribution to The Project for Attorney Retention Research Institute, an organization that advocates for women in the legal profession. "Kamee and the firm both are dedicated to making the work environment as comfortable, supportive and gender-equal as possible," said managing partner Bob Bodian in a joint statement with Verdrager.

"It is clear to me that the firm has learned and grown, which is reflected in both the continued progress it has made in its diversity efforts and the collaborative resolution to this matter," Verdrager said in the statement. "I am proud to have played a part in the substantial progress the firm has made toward gender equality."

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