Business of Law

Federal Judge Revives Disparate Impact Claim re Covington & Burling's Staff Attorney Policies


A federal judge has revived a once-dismissed claim by a former staff attorney at Covington & Burling that the law firm’s policies are discriminatory because they have a disparate impact on non-partnership-track lawyers.

Relying on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that such alleged discrimination doesn’t have to be deliberate, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton granted in part Yolanda Young’s motion for reconsideration and reinstated a disparate impact claim that had previously been dismissed, reports the Blog of Legal Times.

Young alleges that the law firm’s work-assignment policies and refusal to promote staff attorneys to associate positions are discriminatory because staff attorneys are disproportionately black.

Partner Michele Roberts of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld represents Covington in the District of Columbia case, the blog says, but didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

However, the Covington firm has insisted in the past that its policies are not discriminatory and said that Young’s qualifications and work were lackluster.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Staff Lawyer Can Proceed With Disparate Impact Claim Against Covington, Judge Says”

ABAJournal.com: “Fried Frank, Covington Respond to Lawyer Bias Claims”

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