The organisation you work for, a labour union, has asked you to review the following employment law case and the relevant documents in preparation for a meeting with the other party's lawyer.
Read this description of the facts of the case. What is the legal issue here?
The law firm of Redlin and Orbison has offices around the world. The firm regularly sends lawyers from its main office in New York to spend anywhere from a few months to a few years working in one of its offices abroad. Chiara Johnson, an experienced and ambitious intellectual property lawyer, spent two years in the Rome office. When Johnson returned to New York, she became unhappy with her prospects for advancement in the firm, particularly after younger male colleagues with no foreign working experience had made partner1. Johnson claimed that senior management should have made it clear to her before her stay abroad that her two-year absence from the main office would put her at a disadvantage when new partners were being elected. Although Johnson, who has two small children (one of whom is disabled), was allowed to work part of the week at home, she alleges that her boss continually demanded that she spend more face-time at the firm - that is, work from home less often. According to Johnson, a male colleague was allowed to work from home because he had disabled children. Johnson further alleged that she had been paid less than her male counterparts. (Johnson earned $100,000 a year at the time, while two male colleagues in comparable positions earned $115,000.) Johnson contends that male associates were promoted more quickly than female ones. Johnson left the firm, filing a lawsuit against her former employer, seeking damages for psychiatric damage and loss of earnings, pension rights and career prospects.
In response to these allegations, a spokeswoman for Redlin and Orbison pointed out that 20 per cent of the firm's partners are women, more than the national average. Moreover, the firm maintained that it had made it clear from the beginning that the position Ms Johnson had taken was a non-partnership job, and that the firm's hiring and promotion policies are routinely communicated to prospective employees.
Task l: Speaking
Divide into two groups, with one group representing Johnson and one group representing Redlin and Orbison.
1 Prepare for negotiations with the other party. You should:
0 identify the legal issues of the case and determine arguments for your side;
O list the strengths and weaknesses of your side of the case;
0 list the strengths and weaknesses of the other side of the case;
C decide which parts of the relevant legal documents most strongly support your case
and can be used to argue against the other party's case; 0 make notes for the negotiation: What are your goals? What are you willing to give?
What are you not willing to give?
2 Pair up with a representative of the other party and attempt to negotiate a settlement.
3 Report the results of your negotiations to the class.
1To make partner means to become a partner in the firm
Task 2: Writing
Write a letter of advice to one of the parties (your choice), in which you outline the legal issues raised by the case, refer to relevant statutes or related cases and provide your opinion as to the likely outcome of the case.