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Federal Judge OKs Suit by Ex-Associate and Counterclaim by Mayer Brown

Posted Jan 31, 2012 4:38 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A federal judge has given a green light both to a race discrimination suit filed against Mayer Brown by a fired former associate and a counterclaim in which the law firm accuses her of improperly accessing documents while her termination was pending.

Finding that it is a question of fact for the jury whether the law firm used poor performance reviews as a pretext for letting Venus Yvette Springs go from her $210,000-a-year job in Mayer Brown's office in Charlotte, N.C., over her race, U.S. District Judge Max Coburn denied a motion for summary judgment in an opinion and order (PDF) filed Friday.

Springs, who alleged she was hired as "marketing tool" due to the fact that she is black, contended in an amended complaint (PDF) filed in federal court in Charlotte in 2009 that she was then treated differently and disadvantageously by Mayer Brown because of her race before eventually being fired.

She says in the complaint that she moved to the firm after a successful five-year stint at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, because Mayer Brown assured her she would be allowed to work from home after her children finished their school day and count pro bono work toward her billable hours. However, she alleges, those promises were broken once she had accepted the job and was actually working there.

Coburn also denied a summary judgment motion by Springs concerning the law firm's conversion counterclaim concerning documents it alleges she improperly accessed during a 90-day period while she continued to work for Mayer Brown after she was notified that she would be let go.

After leaving Mayer Brown, she worked for Ally Financial, which she is also suing in federal court in Michigan. She contends she was fired from her job there in retaliation for the suit she filed against Mayer Brown, the Am Law Daily reports.

Hat tip: Above the Law.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com "Ex-Associate Claims Mayer Brown Used Her as ‘Marketing Tool’"

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