BEAUMONT – Although a Provost Umphrey equity partner apparently has no issue lecturing others on the “unfairness” of arbitration, he does, however, take issue with firm employees not wanting to arbitrate disputes, a recent lawsuit asserts.
Seeking up to $1 million in damages, Aaryn Giblin filed a discrimination lawsuit against Provost Umphrey (PU) on April 27 in Jefferson County District Court.
According to the petition, on April 20 Giblin filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stating PU discriminated against her on the basis of her sex.
Days later, the firm notified her counsel that it had filed a demand for arbitration.
“The hypocrisy of the firm’s demand that its employees sign a purported contract that contains an arbitration clause shocks the conscious,” the suit states.
“The firm is attempting to remove plaintiff’s claims to a secret arbitration where it will be able to conceal evidence of its wrongful conduct.”
As an example of firm “hypocrisy,” the suit asserts that Bryan Blevins, a PU equity partner, “routinely lobbies the Texas Legislature and makes public statements regarding the dangers and unfairness of arbitration.”
Blevins, a former Texas Trial Lawyers Association president, appears in a TTLA video discussing the importance of the right to a trial by jury.
In the video, Blevins says a jury trial is “what creates a level playing field between the richest and most powerful businesses.”
Giblin, however, argues PU is more interested in holding an advantage over its employees than championing the right to a jury trial.
“The firm’s attempt to erode Giblin’s constitutional right which it acknowledges is so crucial to creating a level playing field smacks of a double-standard and demonstrates that the firm believes it is entitled not to a level playing field but rather an advantage over Giblin and its other employees,” the suit states.
“Even more egregious than attempting to deprive Giblin of the important right to trial by jury, the firm’s attempt to do so via contract, which is illusory on its face, demonstrates its desire to keep its wrongful conduct concealed.
“Astonishingly, the firm has required its own clients to waive their Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury as to any claims for legal malpractice against the firm.”
Giblin is seeking an injunction and declaratory relief, plus court costs and attorney’s fees.
Port Arthur attorney Jill Swearingen Pierce represents her.
Judge Justin Sanderson, 60th District Court, has been assigned to the case.
Case No. B-201649