Large Law Firms

Dechert: Our Culture Is Not Macho, and We Don’t Encourage Stereotypical Roles

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A macho culture? That’s not our law firm, Dechert says in an answer (PDF) to an associate’s bias suit.

Former Boston associate Ariel Ayanna had claimed in a lawsuit filed in December that the law firm retaliated against him for taking paternity leave and derided him for being the primary caretaker of his children. He claimed he “did not fulfill the Dechert male stereotype” when he took on additional child-care responsibilities because his wife suffered from mental illness. He says he was fired four weeks after returning from a leave to care for a newborn child.

In an answer to an amended complaint by Ayanna, Dechert denies that lawyers are required to conform to any stereotypes, including macho ones. And no lawyer was derided or falsely criticized for taking on family care, the law firm says. The National Law Journal has the story.

The firm also asserts several affirmative defenses, including that Ayanna has not stated a viable claim and has suffered no damages. It also asserts unclean hands, but does not elaborate.

Ayanna’s amended complaint drops two claims that Dechert violated federal disability and civil rights laws that were barred by the statute of limitations, the NLJ story says. His amended complaint alleges: retaliation for exercising his family leave rights under federal law, and violation of Massachusetts employment discrimination law through unlawful stereotyping and discrimination based on association with a disabled person.

The law firm filed a separate motion to dismiss the claim based on association with a disabled individual, the NLJ says. Such a claim “simply does not exist” under state law, the firm argues.

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