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Laid-off secretaries sue Paul Hastings

Lawsuits accuse law firm of age discrimination

Two former law firm secretaries are suing their ex-employer for age discrimination.

Anne Hollingsworth, who is 66 years old, and Shawnda Foster, who is 49, filed separate lawsuits against their former employer, Paul Hastings. Both women worked in the law firm’s Los Angeles office until August, when the firm laid them off. They claim Paul Hastings terminated them because they were older and more expensive than the firm’s younger secretaries. Both women are seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Paul Hastings spokesperson Allan Whitescarver told Thomson Reuters that Hollingsworth and Foster were among three employees in the law firm’s Los Angeles office who were let go in August as part of an elimination of positions. Whitescarver says the firm has been reducing its number of secretaries over the past few years, which is consistent with a nationwide trend among law firms that are reducing nonlawyer staff to cut costs. According to Citi Private Bank, the ratio of nonlegal staff to lawyers at big law firms dropped from 1.03 in 2007 to 0.9 in 2011.

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