Labor & Employment
High-Profile Ex-Staff Lawyer Sues Covington & Burling, Alleges Discrimination
Posted Feb 25, 2009 3:28 PM CST
By Martha Neil
Last year, a onetime staff attorney at Covington & Burling wrote a controversial article for the Huffington Post that accused her former firm of "stockpiling its staff attorney ghetto with blacks and other minorities."
Now Yolanda Young has filed a pro se federal race discrimination and retaliation suit against the firm, reiterating her accusation that the firm created a minority staff attorney ghetto, and contending that the firm engaged in a "systemic" campaign to deny Young and other staff attorneys advancement opportunities based on their race, according to the Am Law Daily.
The complaint (PDF) also complains of alleged "cruel and illegal" conduct promoted by the firm against Young, and contends that the firm retaliated against Young by cutting her bonus and falsely accusing her of work errors.
It says the situation worsened after she went to the firm in 2006 and asked for help after enduring months of racial and ethnic slurs by white lawyers.
The suit was filed yesterday in Washington, D.C., Superior Court. It alleges violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.
In response, a lawyer for Covington & Burling says other African-American attorneys have played an important role at the firm and denies that it discriminated against Young.
"While saddened that Ms. Young has chosen to make these false allegations, Covington & Burling intends to vigorously defend against them. Ms. Young's assertions overlook fundamental differences between the work of staff attorneys and other firm lawyers," says attorney Michele Roberts of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, in a written statement provided to the Am Law Daily.
ABAJournal.com: "BigLaw ‘Ghetto’? Former Staff Attorney Raps Covington’s D.C. Office"
ABAJournal.com: "‘On Being a Black Lawyer’ Blogger Reaches Out to Minorities"
Temporary Attorney: "Yolanda Young"