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Couple’s Suit Over Parental Leave Is New Challenge to Big Law Firm

Noam Scheiber

08/19/2019

Jones Day, one of the nation’s largest law firms, faced a harsh spotlight this year when six female lawyers filed a class-action complaint saying they had faced gender and pregnancy discrimination while working there and had been subjected to a “fraternity culture.”

Now the glare has intensified, with a couple formerly employed at Jones Day charging in a federal lawsuit that the firm discriminated in its parental-leave policies and that the husband was fired after he questioned the practice.

The complaint, filed Tuesday, maintains that the firm and some of its partners promoted crude stereotypes about gender roles, with a prominent male partner asking rhetorically, “What would a man do on parental leave — watch his wife unload the dishwasher?” The same partner, the suit claims, teased a male associate for taking parental leave to care for a child.

The plaintiffs are Mark C. Savignac and Julia Sheketoff, who worked in the firm’s elite appellate practice in Washington. Their lawsuit asserts that Jones Day’s policy unlawfully denied Mr. Savignac the full leave he was entitled to after their son was born in January and that it unlawfully fired him when he complained about the policy.

    Parental Leave

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