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To: DLA Piper

DLA Piper, Dump Forced Arbitration

As law students, we are horrified to read Vanina Guerrero’s account of the sexual harassment and assault she experienced while working as a lawyer at DLA Piper. [1] We believe it is unacceptable that DLA Piper is attempting to force Ms. Guerrero into arbitration, a coercive contract provision that shields wrongdoers from accountability and silences victims of illegal conduct. We stand with Vanina Guerrero and survivors of sexual violence, and we demand that DLA Piper end forced arbitration for all of its employees.

Why is this important?

As a partner at DLA Piper, Ms. Guerrero alleges that she was sexually assaulted and harassed by another partner at the firm, then retaliated against for reporting this misconduct. [2] Ms. Guerrero is not alone in the treatment she has experienced while working for a law firm. A global survey found that one in three women report experiencing sexual harassment while working at firms. [3] Sex discrimination remains pervasive within the legal profession, and the upper echelons of the profession remain overwhelmingly white and male. [4] [5]

Despite these shocking allegations, Ms. Guerrero is currently unable to take her claims to court. Instead, DLA Piper is attempting to force her into secret, binding arbitration in which the rules are stacked against her. Employees are far less likely to win in forced arbitration than they are in a court of law, and even when they do win, they recover far less than they would in court. [6]

Despite the overwhelming evidence that forced arbitration enables workplace abuse and impedes access to justice for workers, DLA Piper remains unashamed of the practice. As recently as 2018, the firm proudly stood by their forced arbitration policy, stating that: “There are advantages and disadvantages to every type of dispute resolution process. It has been our experience as a firm that arbitration is a fair and efficient way to resolve internal disputes, and one that benefits all parties in what are often sensitive matters for everyone involved.” [7]

DLA is one of only a handful of law firms that has continued to use forced arbitration for its own employees. Recent survey data shows that nearly 86% of law firms have rejected forced arbitration in employment contracts for all employees, making DLA’s continued use of the practice all the more troubling, especially for future lawyers considering their employment prospects. [8]

Ms. Guerrero’s experiences at DLA Piper exemplify what is wrong with the legal profession. Rather than acting swiftly to protect its employees from workplace abuse, DLA Piper refuses to drop its harmful forced arbitration policy—perhaps because it is afraid of being held accountable for illegal behavior. Instead, it is forcing its employees to choose between the ability to vindicate their civil rights in a court of law and their job.

As the future of the legal profession, we condemn DLA’s actions, and call on the firm to end its use of forced arbitration in employment contracts for all employees, including Ms. Guerrero, other lawyers, and all non-attorney staff. As Ms. Guerrero’s experience at DLA Piper vividly demonstrates, the legal profession is a long way from justice. DLA Piper can begin to rectify the harm it has caused by ending its use of forced arbitration, once and for all.

[1] https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/people/d/de-verneuil-vanina/
[2] https://medium.com/@VaninaGuerrero/open-letter-womens-rights-at-dla-piper-1aaf2b330214
[3] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-14/third-of-female-lawyers-sexually-harassed-metoo-report-finds
[4] https://news.bloomberglaw.com/daily-labor-report/jones-day-accused-by-female-lawyers-of-sex-bias-unequal-pay-1
[5] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/27/us/paul-weiss-partner-diversity-law-firm.html
[6] https://www.epi.org/publication/the-arbitration-epidemic/
[7] https://www.law360.com/articles/1105619
[8] http://www.peoplesparity.org/survey-says-law-firms-are-ditching-forced-arbitration-but-heres-how-to-avoid-the-ones-that-arent/


Reasons for signing

  • Forced arbitration is wrong! Give equal protections to every worker of every kind!
  • No matter who you are you should feel safe in your work environment and you should have the proper tools to report it if you are being harrassed or threatened at work!
  • because its just the right thing to do for those parties that are involved.

Updates

2019-10-31 07:49:59 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2019-10-22 18:59:22 -0400

500 signatures reached

2019-10-10 19:32:35 -0400

100 signatures reached

2019-10-10 13:08:54 -0400

50 signatures reached

2019-10-10 11:44:08 -0400

25 signatures reached

2019-10-10 10:55:04 -0400

10 signatures reached