Labor & Employment

Retired partner sues Patton Boggs, says firm discriminated by cutting his pay when he hurt his back

A retired income partner of Patton Boggs has sued the law firm for alleged disability discrimination, contending that the firm treated him less favorably than other attorneys after he suffered a disabling back injury that limited his ability to work.

Although he was called a partner, Roy P. Lessy Jr., 69, says he was actually an employee of the law firm, for the purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other statutes under which he asserts claims in the lawsuit (PDF) he filed Wednesday in District of Columbia superior court. Unlike a true partner, he says, he was not entitled to vote on all law firm matters and did not share in the firm’s profits and losses.

He was, however, paid a draw against his earnings and Patton Boggs had in the past, in years when he brought in less than the amount of the draw, waived half of the balance and charged the rest against his earnings in the subsequent year, the suit states. The firm waived all of the balance for some other so-called partners in the same situation who were both younger and female, according to Lessy.

After he sustained his back injury in April 2011, however, and was unable to work on a full-time basis, the firm not only failed to accommodate his disability but treated him less favorably, in its compensation arrangements, than lawyers who were able to work, the suit alleges. Lessy resigned midway through that year.

Lessy asserts claims under the ADA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the District of Columbia Human Rights Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, saying that the firm’s failure to return nearly $150,000, most or all of which represented his capital contribution, was discriminatory. He also asserts a breach of contract claim, and seeks compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.

Lessy began working at Patton Boggs in 2004 and focused his practice on antitrust and energy matters, reports the Blog of Legal Times. He previously worked at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

The firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the BLT.

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