Jones Day bias case fades out as final associate drops her claims

The law firm of Jones Day is seen in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • Plaintiff did not say if she struck a settlement with Jones Day
  • Dismissal comes months after former co-plaintiffs dropped claims

(Reuters) - The last former Jones Day associate in a once-$200 million lawsuit against the firm has dropped her claims, putting the two-year-old gender bias case to rest.

Katrina Henderson, a former associate in Jones Day's New York office, on Monday told a Washington, D.C., federal court she was dismissing her remaining claims with prejudice.

Her former co-plaintiffs, Nilab Rahyar Tolton, Andrea Mazingo, Meredith Williams, Jaclyn Stahl and Saira Draper, dropped their remaining claims three months ago.

Henderson had stayed on to press individual allegations of unequal pay and racial discrimination against the firm. She did not say whether she had reached any settlement.

"I, along with the other former plaintiffs, embarked on this litigation to address what we believed to be systemic gender discrimination in pay and other terms and conditions of employment at Jones Day," Henderson said in a statement. "I thereafter sought to additionally address my personal claims of race discrimination during my employment at Jones Day."

U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss tossed her federal equal pay claim in April, finding that "no reasonable jury" would rule in her favor.

Henderson, along with the other former plaintiffs, drew headlines in 2019 with allegations that Jones Day widely discriminates against women through its "black-box" compensation system and "fraternity" culture.

The case was originally brought as a proposed class action seeking as much as $200 million in damages.

The plaintiffs dropped their class and collective claims in December. Henderson in her statement said the firm's payroll data "did not support class-wide claims of gender discrimination" and noted the rest of the plaintiffs had subsequently withdrawn.

"Now, I have decided to dismiss my claims for both gender and race discrimination against Jones Day," she said. Henderson is now at 20th Century Studios.

The case was one of a series of high-profile lawsuits brought by plaintiffs employment firm Sanford Heisler Sharp alleging discrimination at major corporate law firms. The firm has filed and settled lawsuits against Chadbourne & Parke - now part of Norton Rose Fulbright - and the now-shuttered Sedgwick firm.

Sanford Heisler is also representing former Morrison & Foerster associates who sued the firm for allegedly discriminating against pregnant mothers and women. The two remaining plaintiffs in that case have entered into mediation with the firm.

Sanford Heisler did not respond to a request for comment on the end of the Jones Day lawsuit except to provide Henderson's statement.

A spokesman for Jones Day did not respond to request for comment. The law firm in December said the plaintiffs' decision to drop their class claims vindicated its position that its compensation system is not discriminatory.

The case is Tolton, et al., v. Jones Day, U.S. District Court for District of Columbia, 19-cv-00945.

For Henderson: Deborah Marcuse, Clare Horan, Whittney Barth, Kate Mueting, David Sanford, Kate MacMullin and Russell Kornblith of Sanford Heisler Sharp.

For Jones Day: Beth Heifetz, Adrian Wager-Zito, Jacob Roth, MaryEllen Powers, Rebekah Kcehowski and Terri Chase of Jones Day.

Read More:

Judge nixes federal equal pay claim against Jones Day

Ex-associates drop nearly all remaining claims in Jones Day gender bias case

Ex-associates drop class claims from bias case over Jones Day's 'fraternity' culture

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.