Law Firms

Ex-Skadden Lawyer Loses Bias Suit Appeal; Court Cites Misuse of Car Service

Updated: A former litigation counsel accused of misusing the car service at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has lost a bid to reinstate her age and sex discrimination suit against the law firm.

Rita Gordon’s suit had claimed the firm cited her liberal use of the car service as a pretext when it fired her in 2005. In reality, her suit claimed, the firm wanted to replace her with “a younger man whose demeanor and conduct was more consistent with the ‘macho’ image of Skadden’s Litigation Department.”

A trial judge granted the law firm’s motion for summary judgment last year, and the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department affirmed in an opinion issued Tuesday. The Legal Profession Blog notes the decision.

The appeals court said that, over a period of years, Gordon had used the car service hundreds of times in violation of Skadden’s policy. “Plaintiff would commute to and from her home, and to her personal appointments and the office, and then charge those trips to various clients,” the court said. “Plaintiff failed to show that defendants’ stated reasons for her termination were false or pretextual or that defendants were motivated by discrimination.”

Gordon had said she needed to use the car service because of a back injury that made commuting uncomfortable.

Gordon’s attorney John G. Balestriere responded to the decision, saying, “Ms. Gordon never hid that she used the car service for years, without complaint by anyone until right before she was terminated. Any reference to it by the firm is a pretextual reason for Ms. Gordon’s wrongful termination.”

Balestriere says that Gordon is considering her next steps.

Updated at 4 p.m. to add comment from Gordon’s attorney.

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