Archive for the ‘Marie-Anne Hogarth’ Category

Class Action: Restaurant’s Hiring Is Fishy

May 11, 2006

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein has filed a class action against McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants Inc. over the chain’s alleged practice of favoring whites for front-of-the restaurant jobs, such as serving, hosting or bartending.

According to the suit filed Thursday in Northern District Court, minorities and African-Americans at the restaurant are for the most part hired to do low-paid menial jobs in which they do not interact with the public. Name plaintiffs in the suit include Berkeley resident Juanita Wynne, an African-American whose server shifts were cut in half at the local Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto in Berkeley, and Oakland resident Dante Byrd, who was rejected after he applied for a position as a bartender there.

“The McCormick lawsuit falls into that pattern where you have major employers having very loose selection criteria,” says Lieff partner Bill Lann Lee. “When that happens it opens the door to stereotyping.”

The suit is the latest in a string of discrimination suits filed over subjective hiring criteria, such as relying on interviews. Others include the sex discriminations suits filed against Wal-Mart and Costco, and the racial discrimination suits filed against FedEx Express.

Lee says increased use of subjective criteria on the part of employers is contributing to the growing number of these suits. For instance, the suit against Costco faults the company for not posting store manager or assistant manager jobs.

Other plaintiff lawyers in the suit include attorneys from The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of The San Francisco Bay Area, Oakland-based Lewis Feinberg Renaker & Jackson and LaFayette & Kumagai.

Marie-Anne Hogarth

Legal Fallout From Immigration Marches Starts

May 10, 2006

The Legal Aid Society of San Francisco – Employment Law Center announced on Wednesday it was representing a Stockton woman who was fired after participating in the May 1 immigrant right demonstrations.

Sandra Carreno, a 31-year-old Latina salesperson for South Bay Foundry in Lodi, says she had obtained written permission to take a vacation day May 1.

But on the Friday before the Monday rally, Carreno says the manager of the Lodi office asked her what she planned to do that day, and also instructed her to relate to other Spanish-speaking employees they would be fired if they missed work to attend the rallies.

Carreno filed one complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging retaliation for engaging in protected political activity and for discrimination on the basis of national origin. According to the complaint, a company HR employee also questioned Carreno about her intent to march on May 1. And when Carreno asked the HR employee whether she would question a white employee in this way, Carreno claims the employee responded “No, this is about Mexicans.”

The second complaint was filed with the California Labor Commissioner under Sections 1101 and 1102 of the California Labor Code, which also provide employees with protections for participating in political activity.

Matthew Goldberg, an attorney with the law center, says this might be the first legal challenge in California since the May 1 rallies.

He has asked for the labor commissioner to provide an expedited ruling as a means of providing education about the existence and importance of these rights.

“The California Supreme Court has interpreted political support broadly to include marches and protests to advance a particular set of rights,” says Goldberg.

There may be more claims to come. Goldberg says his agency is currently researching a dozen other reports from employees who say they have been, reprimanded, suspended or terminated.

“We think this is going under-reported,” he says.

— Marie-Anne Hogarth

Wilson Partners Quit to Take Morgan to China

February 15, 2006

Morgan Lewis & Bockius is set to open an office in Beijing with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati partner Lucas Shen-Lun Chang and of counsel Xuting (Peter) Zhang.

Chang and Zhang resigned Wednesday from Wilson and joined Morgan the same day.

Morgan obtained its license to practice in Beijing three weeks ago, according to Philip Werner, managing partner of the firm’s practice. The new office will open in two weeks.

Heading the office in Beijing will be K. Karen Loewenstein, a Morgan Lewis partner who previously worked in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office and has also been working in China.

The firm’s strategy in China will be to build on the ties it already has with Silicon Valley companies and develop IP relationships with major Chinese companies.

Werner said Morgan Lewis is precluded under Chinese law from opening a second office in mainland China for three years, but the firm is “evaluating? Hong Kong.

Interviewed Wednesday night, Chang said he had been speaking to Morgan, Lewis for a year in a “low-key? fashion.

“Morgan, as you know, has launched its new Beijing office, which shows its determination for the China market,? Chang said. “Beijing is their 20th office. They are international and they have all the strength to do business in [Asia].?

— Marie-Anne Hogarth

Temporary Reprieve for Locker

January 31, 2006

The fate of Miles Locker, the controversial Division of Labor Standards Enforcement counsel, remains up in the air. Locker’s attorney, Steven Zieff of Rudy, Exelrod & Zieff, was expecting that on Tuesday Locker would be served with a notice of adverse action – possibly “an attempt to fire Miles, to get rid of Miles.? Instead Zieff received a phone call from Anthony Mischel, a lawyer with the Department of Industrial Relations, Office of the Director – Legal Unit.

“I was called and told that they were not going to serve a notice of adverse action after all,? Zieff said. “I guess they need more than five months to develop their pretext? [for a case against Locker].

Locker has been on paid leave for the last five months; and so far his lawyer says the only specified incident of any purported infraction concerned his speaking in July at a panel sponsored by the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Barristers Club.

Zieff says it is anybody’s guess what will happen next: “They are not very communicative.?

And a spokesman for the Office of the Labor Commissioner wasn’t available for comment as of press time (which is whenever my editor decides to hit the “publish? button).

Asked if he has filed a lawsuit on Locker’s behalf, Zieff said, “Not yet.?

UPDATE: Dean Fryer, a spokesman for the Labor Commissioner’s office, declined to comment on Locker’s situation.

“Again it is a personnel matter, and if Miles and his attorney are going to speak to the issue that is fine,? Fryer said. “The reason for us not speaking is to respect Miles’ right of privacy.?

Fryer said that if Locker were to receive a notice of adverse action, he would have five days to plead his case before the Department of Industrial Relations. He would have the right to a hearing before a skelly officer, who would be a person within the Department of Industrial Relations who does not work in the same division as he does, and who has not had involvement in his personnel case. After that, he would have 30 days to file an appeal with the California State Personnel Board.

— Marie-Anne Hogarth

Fortune Lists 6 Firms Among Best Workplaces

January 9, 2006

The best employers are in California. Well, at least if you believe Fortune Magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For.? The list will be published in Fortune’s Jan. 23 issue, expected to hit newsstands Jan. 16. Or read it now (via Legal Reader).

Six law firms made the list in 2006, among them Morrison & Foerster, Bingham McCutchen, Nixon Peabody, Perkins Coie and Arnold & Porter, all of which have Bay Area offices.

The other law firm making the list, Atlanta-based Alston & Bird, doesn’t have local offices.

It’s MoFo’s third time on the list. The firm, ranked No. 88, first appeared on Fortune’s list in 1998.

MoFo was noted for “paying well.? According to the magazine, the average salary is $172,000 for associates, $60,334 for legal secretaries and MoFo funds every employee’s 401(K) account with 5 percent of total compensation.

Bingham McCutchen ranked No. 82 and was recognized for “feting the non-lawyer population with staff-appreciation week and gift baskets for new babies (70 a year) and weddings (60 last year).?

Bingham made the list in 2005, and former McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, which merged with Bingham Dana in 2002, also made the chart in 2000 and 2001.

Nixon Peabody (No. 49 on the list) got high marks for diversity; and Perkins Coie (No. 48) offers staff incentives, among them roundtrip airline tickets and gift certificates, according to the magazine.

Arnold & Porter, No. 54, got praises from Fortune for being “socially responsible.?

Among the other California companies making the list this year were Amgen, Autodesk, Cisco Systems, Genentech, Granite Construction, Hot Topic, Intel, Intuit, Network Appliance, Nugget Markets, Qualcomm, Standard Pacific, Vision Service Plan and Yahoo.

—Marie-Anne Hogarth

Firms Abuzz Over Salary Rumors

December 16, 2005

Rumors of associate salary increases at big L.A.-based law firms were swirling around Internet message boards this week, but so far there’s been no official confirmation. Message boards such as “Greedy LA” and “The Monkey Scribe” posted claims by purported Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher associates that first-years would see a $10,000 increase, from $125,000 to $135,000. That would put them on par with firms like Irell & Manella that announced salary hikes earlier this year. In dozens of postings, subscribers debated the alleged numbers for other Gibson classes.

Charles Woodhouse, Gibson’s executive director, said he was unaware of any such news.* Managing Partner Kenneth Doran would not respond to repeated requests for an interview.

One associate reached at the firm Friday said he’d heard first-years were getting a $10,000 raise and all other associates were getting a $5,000 raise. Compensation is being addressed in individual associate reviews, not in a firm-wide memo, he said — which could explain the fast-churning rumor mills. Another Gibson associate said Friday that she hadn’t heard official confirmation and wasn’t sure whether it was true: “Rumors are floating around, but we haven’t heard anything from management.?

Other law firm leaders around Los Angeles said they’re keeping their ears to the ground.

John Sherrell, chairman of Latham & Watkins’ associate committee, said his firm was still evaluating associate compensation. “One of the factors you always look at is the market,? Sherrell said. “We are very sensitive to being sure our associates receive top compensation. It’s obviously a fluid situation.?

At O’Melveny & Myers’ Los Angeles office, Managing Partner Seth Aronson said he’d also heard murmurings of associate hikes at Gibson. “We’re continuing to study the market,? he said. “We look at variety of factors, not any one. We continue to strive to be competitive in the market.?

* UPDATE: The Dec. 20 Recorder confirms that Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is raising first-year salaries to $135,000. A few smaller firms, such as Irell & Manella, boosted first-year salaries to $135,000 earlier this year. But Gibson, Dunn is the first major California-based firm to do so, and experts expect it will force other large firms to follow suit after years of holding the line.

— Kellie Schmitt, Marie-Anne Hogarth

Don’t Grinch Up Some Kid’s Christmas, Counselor

December 7, 2005
As a holiday public service announcement, Legal Pad reminds lawyers taking part in the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Head Start Holiday Gift Program that now’s the time to make good. As many as 2,034 kids throughout the Bay Area are expecting to receive presents this year from lawyers and staff at about 30 of the city’s law firms. So don’t let the child you picked to be the one left out! For the most part, lawyers are pretty good at remembering.    

Western Messenger Service delivers the gifts to the Head Start programs for free, and it’s no small load. Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal partner Paul Glad says he’s been involved with the program since its inception over 15 years ago, and the big bundle just keeps getting larger. It’s not uncommon for a classroom to receive three-dozen 30-pound packages, he says.

Glad should know. He started the program in San Francisco after Sonnenschein lawyers in Chicago answered children’s “letters to Santa? delivered to the U.S. Post Office. The Chicago lawyers hand-delivered their gifts to kids all over the city, and even traipsed to the then-notorious Cabrini Green Housing complex.

Back in S.F., Glad struck on the idea of enlisting Head Start classes. He called his program “Subordinate Claus” and dressed up as Santa to deliver the presents at the kids’ annual party. Today, the program operates as the Bar Association of San Francisco under the more serviceable title “Holiday Gift Program.”

Anybody wishing to make an early commitment for next year’s gift-giving effort should contact Jayne Salinger, director of special projects for BASF, at (415) 782-8910.

— Marie-Anne Hogarth

Attorney Reveals Secret of Making Good Dough

November 29, 2005

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher lawyers are doing a little pro-bono baking on the side.

At least six attorneys and staff members have committed to baking 450 cookies for the annual holiday party, on Dec. 15, at Compass Community Services, an organization providing shelter, transitional housing and other services to the homeless. Lawyers in the firm’s S.F. and Palo Alto offices are also “adopting? 19 Compass families, providing them with presents, clothes and other essentials.

The sweet move follows San Francisco partner Kathryn Coleman joining Compass’ board.

Coleman is an experienced cookie cutter: She’s been selling about 500 cookies a year at firm bake sales raising funds for various charities, and once produced 2,000 for a holiday party. After much negotiation with a source really, really close to Coleman (who must remain anonymous because, well, that seems to be working so well for other journalists these days), the Recorder’s crack investigative staff has obtained the document containing Coleman’s cookie recipe — apparently a clipping from an old issue of Gourmet magazine.

  • 1 pound of butter
  • 1 1/3 cups of sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 1/3 cups of flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Mix together, roll out and cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes. Cool and decorate.

That’s not to say Coleman is giving up all her tricks — there was something about frosting the flatter, bottom side of the cookies rather than the top, for instance, but our sources swore us to secrecy.

— Marie-Anne Hogarth