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Suit by Fired Associate Claims Dechert’s Macho Culture Punished Paternity Leave

Posted Dec 16, 2010 7:26 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Dechert associate claims he was fired partly because of the firm's macho culture.

Former Boston associate Ariel Ayanna claims the law firm retaliated against him for taking paternity leave and derided him for being the primary caretaker of his children, the National Law Journal reports. Ayanna took on additional child-care duties because his wife suffered from mental illness, and the firm discriminated against him based on his association with a disabled person, according to the Dec. 14 complaint (PDF).

"Ayanna did not fulfill the Dechert male stereotype," the suit says.

According to the suit, Dechert withheld work from Ayanna after he returned from leave and then criticized him for failing to meet employment requirements. He was chided for a lack of commitment, according to the complaint, even though his family obligations never interfered with his job requirements. He was fired in December 2008.

"The culture for men at Dechert is a 'macho' one which praises and encourages male associates and partners to fulfill the stereotypical male role of ceding family responsibilities to women,” the suit says. “In this culture, caregiving is for wives of male attorneys and tolerated only for female attorneys.”

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