Sanford said he will oppose any motion to remove the case to arbitration. He said he's confident Griesing will soon get her day in court before a jury.
According to Griesing's complaint, Greenberg Traurig has a closed compensation system in which only CEO Richard Rosenbaum makes all promotion and compensation decisions with advisement from four other male shareholders who serve as the compensation committee.
Greenberg Traurig has three shareholder levels, consisting of the 300 level, 500 level and 1,000 level. The 1,000 level is the most highly compensated, and less than 10 percent of that level are female attorneys, according to the complaint. The 1,000-level shareholders get nearly exclusive access to the firm's retreats where they can network and refer business, Griesing alleged in the complaint. According to the complaint, the 1,000-level shareholders are estimated to earn $1 million more per year than other shareholders.
Most new shareholders are placed in the 300 or 500 levels and are required to remain in the 500 level for a certain period of time before becoming eligible for the 1,000 level, according to the complaint. Griesing was hired at the 300 level, where all but one of the female Philadelphia shareholders were placed. According to the complaint, men with similar or less qualifications were placed in the 500 level. The 300 level is equivalent to a nonequity partner, Sanford said.
"By assigning women to lower levels and delaying their promotion, the firm denies its female shareholders compensation and opportunities to which they are otherwise entitled," Griesing alleged in the complaint.
She alleged the compensation system lacks sufficient standards, quality controls, implementation metrics, transparency and oversight.
Griesing said she brought in more than $4 million in timekeeper revenues and origination during her time at the firm. She was told that if she generated $600,000 in originations a year, she would receive a $108,000 bonus and that the bonus would increase as the origination increased, according to the complaint. Despite bringing in double the origination, her bonus was only $115,000 in 2008, Griesing alleged in the complaint.
"GT has one exception to its general practice of denying women professional development opportunities and compensating women less than men," Griesing alleged in the complaint. "GT prioritizes, pays and promotes women who have intimate relationships with firm leaders or who acquiesce to sexualized stereotypes."
Griesing alleged in the complaint that many of the few women in management and in high-level shareholder positions had "intimate relationships with firm leaders." Griesing further alleged male shareholders freely commented on the physical appearance of female shareholders. Griesing said one male shareholder asked her at a firm social event if she was the "fifty-year-old Philadelphia shareholder who looked like she was thirty." Griesing said in the complaint the male shareholder said he would "take better care of her" if she moved to California where he had management responsibility.
When Griesing raised concerns about her pay to Philadelphia regional operating shareholder Michael Lehr, he allegedly agreed she was owed more in compensation but allegedly said the firm decreased her bonus to be able to offer higher bonuses to male shareholders who had "families to support," according to the complaint.