An African-American associate lawyer at Akin, Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld, one of the largest law firms in the country, charges Akin Gump with discrimination. Tameka Simmons claims Akin Gump would "showcase" her at minority events to display their diversity, even while transferring her duties to other white associates. Ms. Simmons has sued Akin Gump for her 2009 layoff in New York. See ABA Bar Journal report.
She says she received a positive review in 2008. But, she was warned her job was in jeopardy because she was not aggressive enough in seeking work assignments, did not have enough clients and because she had too many medial absences. But, she responds, her billable hours were on par with other associates.
The suit claims the firm denied her the training and mentoring provided white associates.
It is hard to believe a law firm would state in writing that a lawyer had too many health-related absences. Firing someone because they have too many absences would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. One would expect a major law firm to know better than to admit in writing that you violated a statute. Regarding her performance, billable hours are the "alpha and the omega" at big law firms. If her hours were on par with other associates, the firm will have a very hard time showing that she was truly under-performing.