Labor & Employment

Ex-Associate (a Harvard Law Grad) Dishes on Skadden in Calif. Lawsuit

For seven years, Gary H. Green II handled labor and employment matters as an associate in the Los Angeles office of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. Now he is apparently putting some of his knowledge of the practice area to personal use, in a pro se lawsuit (PDF) he filed on Dec. 31 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The suit, which names as defendants the elite New York City-based international law firm known for its mergers and acquisitions work, as well as four Skadden partners, one firm counsel and a Skadden associate, asserts claims for defamation, wrongful termination and alleged labor code violations concerning pay and access to personnel records, among others. It contends that Skadden fired Green early in 2008, after he gave a junior associate a negative review and, according to some Skadden lawyers, potentially made the firm more vulnerable to a malpractice claim by doing so.

In a written statement, Skadden tells Above the Law, which provides a link to the filed complaint, that “the defendants intend to vigorously defend the case and expect to be fully vindicated” but declines to comment specifically on a matter that is currently in litigation.

Green, a 1994 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, provides a number of criticisms of the perceived inadequacies of his former Skadden colleagues in the 50-page lawsuit. Among them:

At the same time that the firm suddenly terminated him for his alleged “poor judgment” concerning the associate review (his judgment had routinely been rated positively in prior reviews, Green contends), it also was “dumb enough” to document the malpractice issue allegedly created by Green’s alleged “intemperate” comments in the review.

And, according to an excerpt of the at-issue October 2007 associate review included in the lawsuit, Green accused both the associate and a Skadden partner with whom he had worked of “incompetence” concerning their claimed failure to investigate underlying facts of a new matter before conducting related interviews.

Green contends that the law firm violated California public policy by terminating him for writing “a critical—but appropriate and factually accurate performance evaluation” submitted in good faith, without conducting a proper factual investigation of what he said in the October 2007 associate evaluation.

Among other relief, his lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, an injunction requiring the law firm to provide him with all of his personnel records and reinstatement to his job at Skadden, as well as promotion to a counsel position. According to the suit, he was making about $300,000 annually around the time that he was terminated.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 9 to indicate four partners were named in the suit.

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