A whistleblower at Santander alleged that senior bankers went to a strip club and pressured junior colleagues to come along. This is the sort of inappropriate Mad Men-era behavior that law firms stamped out years ago. Banks, on the other hand, keep having allegations like these fall in their laps.
Santander hired Gibson Dunn to investigate the matter in what must have been a nightmare for whoever monitors the “research” billing code over there. In all seriousness, this is an employment discrimination matter when managers put juniors in the position of being rewarded explicitly or implicitly if they’re comfortable with some tawdry bonding and while leaving out those that aren’t.
But did the bank really need Biglaw for this one? It’s a testament to the blinkered thinking in legal departments that when faced with an incredibly mundane — except the subject matter — employment inquiry, the client still went with a top-dollar firm. But this was a golden opportunity to branch out from the existing stable of counsel and find a high-quality mid-sized or boutique firm to deal with the matter at a lower price point. Maybe Gibson Dunn handled this as a courtesy. Though if they did, we’d caution Santander that it’s because of a more lucrative relationship, not because Gibson Dunn is really into you.
Especially since the investigation seems to have fizzled.
The law firm interviewed several people involved in the night out and concluded there had not been explicit pressure exerted on junior staff members, the source added.
Shocking that discrimination didn’t take the form of “okay, everyone who follows me to the club gets promoted!” That’s generally not how that works, which is why most entities put “don’t take people to strip clubs” in their employee handbook to preemptively avoid these issues.
Maybe rewriting the handbook would be a good task for outside counsel.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.