Counsel, Law Society of Ontario
Called to the bar in 2012
When Jen Quito was four years old, her family fled Ecuador amid the country’s ongoing political instability. After settling in Toronto, no employer would recognize either parent’s education. Her father (a high-school teacher) worked as a server; her mother (a doctor) found a job at a daycare.
Quito soon realized that the job market was unfair to most of the families in her working-class neighbourhood. The parents of friends often worked unpaid overtime. And no one seemed to earn a fair salary. “My mother had such a challenging job,” says the 34-year-old. “Her compensation didn’t match that level of responsibility. It was a clear injustice.”
From the outset of her legal career, Quito was determined to protect the vulnerable from exploitation in the workplace. Her first job was at Cavalluzzo LLP, where she practised in the human rights and pay-equity group. As a junior associate, she teamed up with a senior partner to represent midwives across Ontario in a landmark lawsuit. The case argued that the provincial government had underpaid midwives for decades. The data painted a clear picture. Between 1994 and 2013, midwives (who are mostly female) had received a 33-percent raise. Meanwhile, doctors at community health-care centres (who are mostly male) had seen their salaries increase by 76 percent. The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, after five years of intermittent hearings, ruled that this disparity constituted gender discrimination.
In 2018, Quito left private practice to join the Law Society of Ontario. In her new role, she spends much of her time reviewing continuing professional development programs to make sure they’re in line with the latest equity and diversity guidelines. It’s a busy job, but she devotes at least two hours a week to mentoring young women in the profession. “I never say no to people who ask for help. I will make the time.”
This story is from our Summer 2019 Issue.