United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RANDOLPH D. MOSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
six lawyers, bring this action against their former employer,
Defendant Jones Day. Plaintiffs allege, among other things,
that Jones Day discriminated against them based on their
gender, including by denying them opportunities for
advancement, depriving them of equal pay, subjecting them to
a hostile work environment, wrongfully terminating or
constructively discharging them, and retaliating against
them. The question now before the Court has nothing to do
with the merits of the suit but, rather, requires the Court
to decide whether one of the six plaintiffs,
"Doe 4." may proceed under a pseudonym
until October 1, 2019.
time Plaintiffs filed suit, four of the six plaintiffs
("Does 1-4") moved to proceed pseudonymously. Chief
Judge Howell granted that motion "subject to any further
consideration by the United States District Judge to whom
this case is randomly assigned." Dkt. 2. After the case
was assigned, the Court concluded that the reasons set forth
in Chief Judge Howell's memorandum and opinion were
sufficient, at least for the initial stages of the
proceedings, to permit Does 1-4 to proceed pseudonymously.
Minute Order (Apr. 9, 2019). Jones Day subsequently moved to
compel the four anonymous plaintiffs to disclose their
identities, Dkt. 12 at 21, and the Court ordered those
plaintiffs who wished to continue to proceed anonymously to
provide additional evidence in support of their request for
that relief In response, all but one of the Doe plaintiffs
abandoned their requests for anonymous treatment, and
Plaintiffs subsequently filed an amended complaint revealing
the identities of Does 1-3. Doe 4, however, seeks leave to
proceed undera pseudonym until October 1, 2019. Dkt. 35-2 at
reasons explained below, the Court will DENY Doe 4's
request for continued, pseudonymous treatment. Because this
opinion discusses certain private information relating to
(XXXXX), however, the Court will file
the opinion under seal and will provide counsel for the
parties with the opportunity to propose redactions before the
Court files a public version of the opinion, I. LEGAL
in our judicial system is a '"customary and
constitutionally-embedded presumption of openness,"
United States v, Microsoft Corp., 56 F.3d
1448, 1464 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (quoting Doe v. Stegatt,
653 F.2d 180, 186 (5th Cir. 1981)). The "right of public
access"extends to the names of litigants because
disclosing parties' identities "furthers [the]
openness of judicial proceedings." Doe v. Pub.
Citizen, 749 F.3d 246, 270, 273 (4th Cir. 2014).
Consistent with this transparency, the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure and this Court's Local Civil Rules require that
complaints set forth the names of parties, Fed, R. Civ. P.
10(a); LCvRs 5.1(c)(1), 11.1.
Circuit only recently "provided clear guidance as to
when a [plaintiff] may proceed anonymously." In re
Sealed Case, No. 17-1212, 2019 WL 3367999, at * 3 (D.C
Cir. July 26, 2019). Stated at the most general level, courts
must "balance the litigant's legitimate interest in
anonymity against countervailing interests in full
disclosure." Id. Courts must do so, however,
against the backdrop of the "presumption in favor of
disclosure, which stems from the 'general public interest
in the openness of governmental processes."'
Id. (quoting Wash. Legal Found, v. U.S.
Sentencing Comm'n, 89 F.3d 897, 899 (D.C. Cir.
1996)). The following five factors "serve well as
guideposts from which a court ought to begin its
 whether the justification asserted by the requesting
party is merely to avoid the annoyance and criticism that may
attend any litigation or is to preserve privacy in a matter
of a sensitive and highly personal nature;
 whether identification poses a risk of retaliatory
physical or mental harm to the requesting party or even more
critically, to innocent non-parties;
 the ages of the persons whose privacy interests are
sought to be protected;
 whether the action is against a governmental or private
party; and, relatedly,
 the risk of unfairness to the opposing party from
allowing an action against it to proceed anonymously.
Id. at * 4. But those factors are just guideposts-
District courts "should not.. . engage in a wooden
exercise of ticking the" boxes identified with any
particular test. Id. Instead, it is the
responsibility of the district court to evaluate each case on
its individual facts and to assess "whether the
non-speculative privacy interests that the movant . . .
identifies] outweigh the public's substantial interest in
knowing the identities of parties in litigation" and
"any legitimate interest that the non-moving parties .
. . may have in revealing the identity of the movant[,
]" John Doe Company No. 1 v. Consumer Fin.
Protection Bur., 195 F. Supp, 3d 9, 17 (D.D.C. 2016).
turning to the five-factor test, the Court considers Doe
4's contention that the presumption in favor of
disclosure applies with less force here than in the typical
case for two reasons: First, revealing Doe 4's identity
will "deter other similarly situated litigants
from" filing suit. Dkt. 24 at 20. Second, the public
interest in knowing who is engaged in litigation before a
federal court is satisfied -at least in large part-by the
disclosure of the identity of the other five plaintiffs.
See id, at 19-20. Although these considerations are
not irrelevant, they do not meaningfully diminish the public
interest in disclosure, First, Doe 4's contention that
the public interest in favor of disclosure is tempered in
this case because disclosing Doe 4's identity would have
a chilling effect on other, similarly-situated litigants,
proves too much. Doe 4 does not contend that her decision to
participate in this suit hinges on her ability to maintain
her anonymity, and her contention that disclosure in this
case might affect the decisions of putative ...