Many non-lawyers expect lawyers to follow the law. Not always. In one recent lawsuit, for example, a major law form was sued by the EEOC for age discrimination. The employee claims in this lawsuit that his law firm, Kelley Drye, provides in its partnership agreement that if a partner wishes to continue working past age 70, he must give up any equity (ie, partnership) interest in the firm. The employee also claims his pay was reduced by $25,000 in 2009 after he filed his charge with the EEOC. If true, this would be a strong lawsuit. Age distinctions in a partnership agreement are relatively easy to prove. Taking reprisal after filing a charge is also relatively easy to prove. Kelley Drye is a one of the largest law firms in the country. One would expect them to follow the law better than others.
In a separate lawsuit, a black lawyer at another national law firm, Howrey, a global law firm, encountered racism in the Bruissels office. Howrey had recruited Ms. Menns from another firm. They sent her to the Brussels office. At the Brussels office, she was removed from favorable assignments and even moved to a different floor of the building. When she complained, she was told by management that she was so impressive that the white employees felt uncomfortable around her. The Manager also told her that because she was the first black lawyer, the staff was not used to being forced to be in a "subordinate position" to a black person.
She then contacted firm leaders in washington, D.C. The diversity committee and the firm CEO met with her in June, 2009. The young associate, Ms. Menns was fired that day. Ooops. Can anyone say retaliation? A bad day for a for a firm that ranked No. 13 out of the top 200 grossing firms for commitment to diversity.
Ms. Menns seeks $30 million in damages.