Women in the Law—Finding Your Authentic Style
It’s not an exaggeration to say that most people have, at some point in their lives, felt pressure to conform to an expectation that society has arbitrarily levied upon them. This is especially true for women. As women, we are constantly bombarded with contradictory representations in the media and on television of how the perfect modern woman should look and act. When it comes to the idealized image of the female attorney, generally the message is the same—she is aggressive, she is loud and she is always impeccably dressed and coifed. This image seldom bears any real resemblance to the actual women who spend their days tirelessly fighting for their clients and trying to change the tides of gender inequality in the legal field. This month, we spoke with attorney Brenda S. Fulmer to get her perspective on the challenges facing the modern female attorney—her answers were refreshing and hopeful for the future.
On May 21, 2019, it was announced that Starbucks is facing two separate lawsuits in federal court in the Southern District of New York and New York State Supreme Court, respectively, both of which allege that Starbucks has been exposing both its employees and customers to a well-known toxin at several of its Manhattan locations.
On May 14, 2019, cosmetics giant L’Oreal USA Inc. (“L’Oreal”) was served with class claims in federal court in the Southern District of New York by consumers who allege that the company intentionally mislead consumers as to the true ingredients in L’Oreal Ever Sleek Keratin Caring products.
On May 15, 2019, a group of physically disabled New York City residents filed proposed class claims against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”) and the New York City Transit Authority alleging that the defendants are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) by failing to install elevators or other stair-free routes in New York City subway stations.
On May 7, 2019, former employees of local hospitals in Newark, New Jersey owned by Cathedral Healthcare System, filed class claims against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark alleging that the Archdiocese deprived around 135 former hospital employees of at least $2.7 million in lifetime pension payments.
On May 7, 2019, electronics giant LG Electronics USA Inc. (“LGEUS”) was served with class claims in New Jersey federal court alleging that the company violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
In the complaint, plaintiff Misa Choi claimed that the defendant company fraudulently classified herself, and her fellow class members, as exempt from overtime premium payments by regularly issuing so called “paper promotions” to entry-level associates. LGEUS’s “paper promotions” nominally promoted entry-level associates to assistant managers without modifying the employees’ responsibilities, authorities or tasks assigned to them. As a result, plaintiff argued that the defendant actively encouraged employees to mistakenly consider themselves management and therefore exempt from, and not entitled to, overtime payments.
On May 2, 2019, federal judge for the Northern District of California Elizabeth D. Laporte, rejected defendant Amazon.com Inc.’s (“Amazon”) bid to dismiss claims that the online retail giant has infringed upon and diluted Williams-Sonoma’s service mark and engaged in unfair competition by marketing Williams-Sonoma products for resale on its website.
On April 29, 2019, the Georgia Court of Appeals upheld a $2,236,850.28 verdict awarded to a Georgia man who fell 10 feet through an open hatch on a Golden Isles Cruise Lines casino boat in December 2014.
In its appeal, Golden Isles argued that the trial court erred in denying its motion for summary judgment because the one-year contractual limitations period governing the plaintiff’s claim expired before he filed his lawsuit. However, the court found that the reason for the plaintiff’s delay was as a result of the owner of Golden Isles, who was a long-time friend of the plaintiff, and the company’s insurance adjuster, insisting that they would “take real good care” of the plaintiff.
On April 25, 2019, class claims were filed against popular bubble tea chain Vivi Bubble Tea Inc., in the Eastern District of New York, alleging that the company failed to design, construct, maintain and operate their website to be fully accessible and independently usable to consumers that are blind or vision impaired in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).
On April 23, 2019, in the wake of substantial media coverage surrounding the alleged attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett, the two brothers accused of perpetrating the supposed hate crime filed suit against Smollett’s attorneys. The brothers are claiming that the legal team defamed them by continuing to insist in the media that the brothers committed a hate crime. Smollett was represented by Tina Glandian and Mark Geragos.
On April 19, 2019, class claims were filed in federal court in the Southern District of California against the world’s largest food company, Nestlé USA Inc. (“Nestlé”). The suit alleges that Nestlé has “been making its chocolate fortune off the backs of child labor and child slave labor in West Africa.”
On April 16, 2019, class claims were filed against famed motorcycle manufacturer, Harley Davidson Motor Company (“Harley Davidson”) in federal court in the Northern District of California. The suite alleges that the company knowingly sold tens of thousands of motorcycles with a hidden and dangerous defect in its anti-lock braking system (“ABS”).
On April 12, 2019, two concerned mothers filed class claims in federal court in Utah against Owlet Baby Care Inc. the makers of the popular Smart Sock baby monitor, alleging that the company intentionally misled and deceived consumers as to the true nature of its product.
On April 12, 2019, class claims were filed against Young Living Essential Oils in Texas federal court by a company representative who claimed that the company is operating under a “pyramid scheme” business model.
In today’s world of the 24-hour news cycle and the instantaneous publishing power of social media, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to judge what is fact from mere conjecture. At times, it feels like we live in a culture where jumping to conclusions and making broad generalizations has become de rigueur. The subject of this month’s edition of Women in the Law, San Francisco attorney Lori Andrus, is of the opinion that in order to succeed and to make strides, women need to be aware of this potential pitfall and become the most prepared and knowledgeable person in the room.