Dechert has reached a settlement over claims that it discriminated against certain staff members because of their sex and age.
An order dated March 16 said the case had settled and was dismissed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The order gave no additional details about the settlement.
Patricia Gindhart, 58, and Dana Dudek, 55, filed their complaint in November. In 2016, Gindhart was a senior payroll manager for Dechert and Dudek was a payroll manager working directly under Gindhart. They worked at Dechert for 28 and 26 years, respectively.
According to their complaint, Gindhart and Dudek were the two oldest female employees in the firm’s payroll department in Philadelphia when they were fired in October 2016. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued each of them a right to sue in August, after they filed EEOC complaints about their termination. They alleged that while they were working for the firm, administrative leaders would make comments that showed bias against older female employees.
The last filing in the case before the settlement was Dechert’s answer to the complaint, in which the firm argued that Gindhart and Dudek were terminated because of technological advances that made their roles unnecessary.
“Dechert moved to a cloud-based application for finance and human resources and then outsourced its payroll function to streamline processes, improve efficiencies, and implement needed controls,” the answer said. “As a result, the positions held by plaintiffs were eliminated. The decision to terminate plaintiffs’ employment had nothing to do with plaintiffs’ age or gender or any retaliatory motive.”
Gindhart and Dudek had sought compensatory damages for lost earnings as well as pain and suffering, liquidated damages and punitive damages.
Dechert had a strong year financially in 2017, with record highs for revenue per lawyer and profits per equity partner, at $1.054 million and $2.7 million, respectively. But in 2016, the year Gindhart and Dudek were fired, the firm’s profit margin took a hit, and PPP increased only slightly.
Sandra Di Iorio of Reed Smith, who represented Dechert, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday. Rahul Munshi of Console Mattiacci Law, who represented Gindhart and Dudek, also did not immediately respond to a call for comment.