Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison offices in Washington, D.C.
A former Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison lawyer has failed to overturn a decision by an employment tribunal that stopped her from calling a witness to back up her claims of discrimination at the U.S. firm’s London office.
The employment appeals tribunal upheld the decision made last week that former Paul Weiss lawyer Anna Christie, who is pursuing a $173 million (£136 million) claim against the firm, would not be allowed to submit a witness order to another female Paul Weiss lawyer.
The witness, corporate lawyer Sonia Larsen, had been lined up by Christie to back up claims of there being a culture of discrimination and a hostile environment for women at the firm’s London office, the tribunal heard.
Christie had been a corporate lawyer at Paul Weiss until she was fired February 13, 2018, according to court documents. She alleged she was fired due to sex discrimination which she said amounted to harassment or victimization, adding that she also suffered religious discrimination because she received fewer paid holiday days than Jewish staff.
Larsen had also lodged a claim against the firm, but the employment appeals tribunal heard today (May 20) that she had since signed a nondisclosure agreement with Paul Weiss after Christie’s witness order was submitted.
Judge Eady QC ruled today that in this case the employment tribunal was “obviously troubled” that Larsen had entered into an NDA with Paul Weiss. She added however that: “The ET was not concerned with the issue of NDAs as a whole.”
She said that not knowing the detail about what Larsen knew about the matter at hand made it difficult to know whether there is a broader public interest in granting a witness order.
She added: “I consider that the ET did nothing but include a permissible step in its decision.”
Christie had argued that Larsen had been pressured into signing an NDA, something that was “strongly denied” by Paul Weiss legal representative Paul Epstein QC of Cloisters.
Epstein added: “Many of the matters [Christie] has put forward as facts are hotly contested.”
Paul Weiss and the head of its London office David Lakhdhir argue that Christie was fired for starting a full-time PhD program at Cambridge University without telling the firm, as well as alleged performance issues, the tribunal heard.
The full hearing continues.