BigLaw Firm’s Alleged Blog Disclosure Results in Defamation Claim by Ex-Associate
Posted Aug 27, 2012 10:46 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A former Ropes & Gray associate who sued the firm for racial discrimination and retaliation is adding additional claims as a result of the law firm’s alleged disclosure to a legal blog.
A federal judge in Boston is allowing former associate John Ray III to add defamation and invasion of privacy claims to his suit, the National Law Journal reports. Ray claims the firm defamed him by giving confidential documents from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to Above the Law, the NLJ story says.
Ray’s original suit, filed in August 2011, had claimed a Ropes & Gray partner asked him to serve as the “token black associate” during a meeting with a prospective client. He also claimed the firm retaliated when he complained about discrimination.
According to the amended suit (PDF), Ropes & Gray apparently gave Above the Law the EEOC’s final determination that the firm did not engage in bias. The determination “parroted the false and misleading accusations of criminal conduct” that the firm had advanced before the agency, namely, that Ray had committed a crime against a co-worker, the suit claims. The blog included a quote from an unnamed Ropes spokesperson that asserted the firm had denied Ray partnership partly because of “inappropriate behavior with subordinates.”
The suit claims Ropes did not believe the criminal allegations it had made, and the EEOC determination had relied solely on submissions of the parties. The EEOC has since reversed its determination and found that Ropes retaliated against Ray for his complaints by refusing to provide promised references, the suit says.
A Ropes & Gray spokesman told the NLJ that the EEOC had cleared it of wrongdoing. "The EEOC specifically determined that Ropes & Gray did not discriminate against Mr. Ray and that determination was subsequently reconfirmed by the EEOC.”