Sex Discrimination

Bell Yard was appointed by a leading international law firm to advise on communications around its dispute with a female partner at the firm.

The partner in question had made whistleblowing allegations as well as allegations of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination against the firm and issued a high profile claim attracting media attention.

The case had all the ingredients the media loves to report – namely a senior woman raising concerns about the management of operations and alleging the decision to terminate her employment related to her pregnancy. The case was also legally interesting – seeking to clarify the status of a worker under employment legislation and whether a partner was entitled to protection under whistleblowing laws. On top of this her legal advisers were well known for proactively engaging with the media on their client cases.

Bell Yard advised the law firm management and marketing team on its communications, specifically on detailed internal / media / client scripts for the matter — firstly around the complainant’s removal from the partnership, then for the initial High Court hearing about the worker component of the case, and later when this went to the Supreme Court. The strategy was to be robust and not cower at headlines designed to exert pressure. However, such was the interest in the legal issues at play, the matter grew in significance and therefore visibility. In the end an agreement was reach between the claimant and the firm prior to the employment tribunal set to hear the claim in full. Once again Bell Yard advised on the firm’s positioning.

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