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At its core, the #MeToo movement has been about voice—speaking up after generations of silence endured by victims of sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace. That voice can be at its most powerful in the pages of a court complaint, where years of pain and frustration are described in the plaintiffs’ allegations.

A number of lawsuits have been filed by women that allege gender discrimination in their law firm’s compensation and promotion practices. The specific allegations in these suits generally reveal more than examples of disparate pay and a failure to promote. They often provide a glimpse into other negative behaviors that confirm what research has long revealed: sexual harassment and related negative behaviors in the workplace are rooted in discrimination and power imbalances.

Two recent complaints against global law firms are illustrative. The 81-page amended complaint filed on May 21 by seven Jane Doe plaintiffs against Morrison & Foerster detailed the experiences of female associates who allege that their work environment changed dramatically after taking maternity leave in accordance with the firm’s policy. Their claims include compensation discrimination, changes in the quality of assignments, failure to provide work sufficient to meet billable-hour demands, failure to promote, and other examples of disparate treatment relative to their male colleagues.

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