Labor & Employment Law

Ex-Staff Lawyer Can Proceed With Disparate Impact Claim Against Covington, Judge Says


A former staff attorney of Covington & Burling can proceed with her federal discrimination claim over the law firm’s policy of assigning work, based on a disparate impact theory.

However, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton found that Yolanda Young had waited too long to bring a similar claim that the firm’s refusal to promote her to an associate position also was discriminatory, reports the Blog of Legal Times.

Walton OK’d the work-assignment claim because it involves a recurring issue that is revisited at annual reviews each year, the law blog explains. Young argues that the firm’s policies have a disparate impact because, she alleges, the staff attorney group is disproportionately black.

Both sides proclaimed victory over Walton’s opinion (PDF) yesterday in the Washington, D.C., case.

“My client is pleased to be able to pursue the disparate impact claim because it is not every day that a court allows that kind of claim to move forward,” attorney Latif Doman, who is representing Young, tells the BLT. “As we move forward with discovery, it will be clear that African-American staff attorneys are put through a similar system as white associates but are not being judged in the same manner.”

Meanwhile, Covington said in a written statement that the firm is pleased some claims have been dismissed and plans to move for summary judgment concerning the rest of them “in due course.” The firm is represented by Michele Roberts of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, who did not immediately respond to the BLT’s request for comment.

Earlier coverage:

ABA Journal.com: “High-Profile Ex-Staff Lawyer Sues Covington & Burling, Alleges Discrimination”

ABAJournal.com: “Covington Returns Yolanda Young Fire, Says Ex-Staff Lawyer Had Lackluster GPA”

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