Amid growing awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in work-related situations, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan today launched its Sexual Harassment & Employment Discrimination Practice Group, focusing on representing victims of workplace harassment and discrimination.
“The #MeToo Movement has made it clear that this is a pervasive problem, and it occurs across all industries at all levels of employment,” said Quinn Emanuel partner Manisha M. Sheth, who is co-chair of the new practice group. “For decades, some people in positions of power have been allowed to abuse it in a way that harmed women and other protected groups financially, emotionally, and in the worst cases, physically. We look forward to working with these individuals to seek justice and remedy such misconduct.”
“Quinn Emanuel’s entry into this practice area is a watershed event. We are the only major AmLaw 100 firm that is actively promoting these plaintiff-side representations,” added Quinn Emanuel founder John B. Quinn. “As with our other practice areas, our defense side representations will allow us to anticipate arguments, defenses, and strategies that may be employed by defendants in these types of cases. The firm expects to partner with other firms and pay referral fees as it develops this practice.”
Led by Sheth – based in New York City – and by Los Angeles-based partner Diane Cafferata, the practice group will also include the following partners: former chief of the Department of Justice Fraud Section Sandra Moser, former sex crimes prosecutors Diane Doolittle and Tara Lee, former Credit Suisse Global Head of Human Resources Peter Calamari, former federal prosecutor Duane Lyons, former federal prosecutor Harvey Wolkoff and former Middlesex County Special Assistant District Attorney Aliki Sofis.
The #MeToo movement has given victims of workplace sexual harassment, assault, discrimination, and retaliation the courage and support to seek justice for the wrongs committed against them. The #MeToo movement has led to a significant increase in litigation alleging sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Given recent developments in the legal and political landscape, these claims are being adjudicated publicly in courtrooms instead of behind closed doors in confidential arbitrations. Victims who have pursued their claims have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements since 2018.
Litigation of sexual harassment suits is not limited to direct actions brought by victims against perpetrators and their employers. In fact, courts have seen a dramatic upswing in the number of shareholder derivative suits brought against a company’s board of directors based on its failure to act after learning about complaints of sexual harassment made by an employee. Derivative cases can be brought, for example, on the grounds that corporate management committed waste or breached their fiduciary duties by approving settlements with the victims. Shareholders have also brought securities fraud claims against a company based on allegations that the company made material misstatements or omissions regarding sexual harassment that affected its stock price.
Quinn Emanuel is particularly well-suited to represent victims of workplace sexual harassment in direct actions and shareholders in indirect actions, including derivative suits and securities cases given its track record on both sides of the “v.” in employment litigation, derivative actions, and securities cases. Due to its track record of achieving successful results, the firm has been recognized as one of the “Fearsome Foursome” – the most feared law firms – by BTI Consulting Group. And oftentimes, the mere appearance of Quinn Emanuel in a case has led to a quick and favorable resolution for our clients.