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Labor & Employment

Ex-associate sues 2 law firms, says negative info they shared put him in a lower-paying job

Posted Mar 25, 2013 12:06 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Jeffrey Downs says he was all set to follow partner Mark LeWinter last year when he exited Philadelphia personal injury law firm Anapol Schwartz to take a job with competitor Raynes McCarty.

But then his Raynes job offer was rescinded, Downs contends in a lawsuit filed this week in the city's Common Pleas Court, because LeWinter falsely told the Raynes firm that Downs intended to sue Anapol Schwartz for discrimination, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Downs, who is gay, says in the suit he did suffer discriminatory treatment at Anapol Schwartz, which came to a head when the firm required associates to have Facebook accounts and put personal information on them. He also alleged he had difficultly getting staff support and expense reimbursements from Anapol Schwartz, due to discriminatory attitudes about his sexual orientation.

LeWinter, contends Downs, said he had to tell the Raynes firm about the possible suit against Anapol because it called Downs' character and fitness into question.

The upshot of all this talk, Downs alleges, was that he wound up in a lower-paying job with a small defense litigation firm.

He has named both law firms as defendants in a suit alleging tortious interference with prospective business and filed additional defamation and negligent misrepresentation counts against LeWinter. Attorney Kimberly H. Ashbach of Ambler, Pa., is representing Downs, who is also a former associate at Pepper Hamilton and Dechert.

Partner Howard Klein of Conrad O’Brien represents Raynes McCarty. In a written statement, he called the suit “baseless with no facts to support it," promised a vigorous defense and said he and his clients are confident they will prevail.

Gaetan J. Alfano of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti represents Anapol Schwartz. He also called the claims by Downs baseless and said the firm has required employees to take mandatory discrimination and harassment training.

The Legal Intelligencer (sub. req.) also has a story.

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