PHILADELPHIA – A female attorney is suing a Philadelphia law firm claiming she was fired based on her gender.
Jennifer Seme filed a lawsuit Feb. 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Gibbons PC claiming violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance.
"Plaintiff was hired by defendant on or about March 8, 2010, as a lateral associate attorney hire," the filing said.
Seme claimed in her suit that while she was employed by the law firm, it adopted a promotion strategy based on gender.
"Plaintiff was told that her ability to 'originate' work for defendant would play a role in whether or not she was promoted to director. However, defendant employed a sex-biased system of assigning 'origination' credit that substantially favored male attorneys," the complaint said, adding that Seme "was prevented from receiving credit for work she had actually performed in a manner that she understood was designed to prevent her from being promoted to director."
Seme was terminated on July 18, 2018, the filing said.
When asked about the suit, attorney Sara Begley of Holland & Knight, who represents Gibbons, told the Pennsylvania Record that the defendant "adamantly disputes the claims lodged by this former employee and will vigorously and confidently defend against them in the appropriate forum."
Begley also reaffirmed the equality policies adopted by Gibbons.
"Gibbons embraces equal opportunity for all employees and does not tolerate discrimination in any form. The Firm is steadfastly committed to the advancement of the many talented women in its workforce and has and will continue to dedicate significant time and resources to the Gibbons Women’s Initiative. The firm has been winning awards and receiving national recognition for its accomplishments in the advancement and retention of women in the legal profession and is proud that four executive committee members are women, in addition to its executive director," Begley said.
Seme is seeking compensatory damages to be set by the court, plus costs, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees, as well as jury trial.
She is represented by attorneys Stephen Console and Katherine Oeltjen of Console Matiacci Law LLC of Philadelphia.