Traci Ribeiro of Sedgwick. (Courtesy photo)
Traci Ribeiro has quietly left the partnership at Sedgwick, a firm she settled a gender discrimination suit with in April.
Her gender bias suit, initially filed last summer, claimed that the San Francisco-based Am Law 200 firm routinely discriminated against women. Ribeiro left Sedgwick within the past two weeks.
It remains unclear what’s next for her, as attempts to reach Ribeiro through her current and former lawyers at Sanford Heisler Sharp, Chicago’s Wood Law and Oakland, California-based Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams were unsuccessful Friday.
An insurance expert who joined Sedgwick’s Chicago office in 2011, Ribeiro was the first of a series of women who within the past year have taken their firms to court in order to change what they allege are male-dominated workplaces that don’t promote or pay women in equal measures as men.
“My goal in filing the suit and having my day in court is to ensure equal pay for everyone at Sedgwick,” Ribeiro told The American Lawyer when her suit first filed in a California state court in July 2016. “I’m hoping that other firms will look at what they’re paying the men, look at what they’re paying the women and pay them equally.”
Ribeiro’s suit was subsequently removed to federal court in San Francisco, where in January she debuted a new legal team led by Sanford Heisler Sharp, a firm whose name partner David Sanford is well-versed in Big Law partnership disputes.
But Sedgwick forcefully denied Ribeiro’s claims and successfully pushed her suit into arbitration, where it was settled in April on undisclosed terms. Ribeiro continued her practice of representing insurance companies in coverage disputes out of Sedgwick’s Chicago office.
Since Ribeiro’s suit was filed last year, firms such as Chadbourne & Parke, Proskauer Rose and Steptoe & Johnson have faced gender bias suits. All of the firms have vigorously defended their pay and promotion practices against allegations levied in the gender bias suits.
Ribeiro is far from the first woman to leave her firm after filing suit against it.
Kerrie Campbell, a female litigation partner at Chadbourne in Washington, D.C., who made waves a year ago this month for her $100 million gender bias suit against the firm, was expelled from its partnership in April ahead of Chadbourne’s combination with Norton Rose Fulbright in June. In Campbell’s case, 70 partners voted in favor of her expulsion, while she was the lone dissenter, although several other partners abstained from a vote.
An unnamed Proskauer partner sued her firm in May, alleging that she is a victim of discrimination and claiming “substantial gender disparities” in the firm’s partnership. The suit seeks at least $50 million in damages. And Ji-In Houck left Steptoe & Johnson’s Los Angeles office in 2016 only to sue the firm in late June, accusing it of paying women less and giving them fewer promotion opportunities than men.
In December, former Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo associate Kamee Verdrager in Boston settled her nearly decade-long gender bias battle with the firm.
As for Sedgwick, the firm has struggled this year with partner defections and layoffs. Earlier this week, Sedgwick confirmed that it would close its office in Washington, D.C., following the departure of an unidentified group of lawyers. One of them appears to be Susan Watson, who earlier this year was tapped to co-chair the firm’s inclusion and diversity committee.