Law Firm DLA Piper Faces Lawsuit Alleging Pregnancy Discrimination and Wrongful Termination

DLA Piper, a prominent international law firm, is facing a lawsuit filed by a former attorney who claims she was unjustly fired for requesting maternity leave. Anisha Mehta, a senior associate in the firm’s intellectual property group, asserts in her discrimination lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, that she was terminated less than a week after submitting her leave request in October 2022 while being six months pregnant with her first child.

According to the complaint, DLA Piper cited performance issues as the reason for Mehta’s dismissal. However, Mehta contends that during her one-year tenure at the firm, she received three salary raises and a bonus exceeding $100,000, with her superiors consistently praising her work. She alleges that the firm’s true motive behind her firing was to avoid paying her salary during her planned leave, especially since the firm was facing reduced legal work and client pressure regarding billing rates.

DLA Piper, an international firm with 4,200 lawyers, has yet to comment on the lawsuit. Mehta’s attorney, Jeanne Christensen of the plaintiffs’ firm Wigdor, accuses DLA Piper of engaging in “blatant gender discrimination” and prioritizing profits over gender equality.

While several major US law firms laid off employees amid a decline in highly profitable transactional work last year, DLA Piper was not among those that publicly reported layoffs. The firm’s revenue even saw a growth of 6.2% in 2022, according to legal publication The American Lawyer.

Mehta’s lawsuit alleges violations of federal laws on pregnancy discrimination and retaliation. She seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees. In March, she also filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

This case highlights the ongoing challenges faced by working women in navigating maternity leave and workplace discrimination, raising important questions about gender parity and employer obligations to accommodate employees during pregnancy.

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