Kamee Verdrager. ()
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo announced on Monday that it reached a settlement agreement in a gender discrimination case filed against the firm by a former female associate.
The announcement comes after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said in May that the firm had to stand trial in the discrimination suit brought by Kamee Verdrager, a former female associate at the Boston-based firm.
“Kamee and the firm both are dedicated to making the work environment as comfortable, supportive and gender-equal as possible,” Bob Bodian, the managing partner of Mintz Levin, said in a joint statement with Verdrager. “We are happy to put our differences behind us so that we can work together for the greater good.”
Verdrager, who now operates her own employment law practice in Bedford, New Hampshire, initially filed her discrimination and retaliation suit in 2007, which named the firm as well as Mintz Levin chairman R. Robert Popeo and four other firm partners as defendants.
The firm turned to Joan Lukey, a high-profile Boston litigator at Choate, Hall & Stewart, for its representation in the appeal.
In her complaint, Verdrager alleged that within months of joining the Boston-based firm from Kelley Drye & Warren, her supervising partner, Bret Cohen, made sexually provocative comments to her. But when she complained to the firm’s management and human resources office, they found that no discrimination had occurred.
Then, in 2005, Verdrager was forced to take short-term disability leave after developing medical complications from her pregnancy. In Mintz Levin emails that she obtained from the firm’s intranet, partners expressed their frustration with her absences, and after returning full-time, she received a series of negative reviews and was demoted back two years.
Following her demotion, she filed a state employment complaint before the Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination commission, and when the firm discovered that she had accessed its internal files in relation to her claim, she was fired.
“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.”
Though the settlement terms are confidential, Mintz Levin noted in a statement that they have made a contribution on behalf of itself and Verdrager to The Project for Attorney Retention Research Institute, an organization that advocates for women in the legal profession.
Verdrager’s settlement announcement comes days after the New York Law Journal reported that Kerrie Campbell, a female partner at Chadbourne & Parke who filed suit against the firm for discrimination, alleged that a counterclaim against her $100 million proposed class action by the firm was “clearly designed to retaliate against her for initiating the lawsuit.”
Contact Meghan Tribe at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @TribeMeghan