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Federal Court Dismisses Racial Bias Lawsuit against Quinn Emanuel View Count: 179

Last week, in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, a racial bias lawsuit brought against Quinn Emmanuel by a contract attorney, who formerly used to work at the law firm, was dismissed. The former Quinn Emmanuel attorney had claimed that the law firm used to give her lower-paying assignments because she is black.

However, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain granted summary judgment to Quinn Emmanuel rejecting the arguments of the contract attorney Kisshia Simmons-Grant.

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Though Simmons-Grant, who worked at Quinn Emmanuel from 2006 to 2010 cited statistical data in her lawsuit with pay comparisons showing black attorneys at the law firm billed less than their non-black colleagues, the Judge ruled that the plaintiff had failed to prove that she was a victim of individual discrimination.

The court observed, “Individual private plaintiffs must prove that they were, individually, the victims of intentional discrimination.” The court also rejected the retaliation claims brought by the plaintiff holding them “wholly inadequate … as to whether Quinn intentionally subjected her to an intolerable work environment.”

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The lawsuit filed in October 2011 claimed violations of federal, state, and local civil rights laws and sought damages, back pay, as also compensation for lost future earnings, and for mental anguish. Punitive damages had also been included in the list along with attorney’s fees.

However, according to the judge, if the plaintiff was unable to show she was individually discriminated against and was the victim of intentional bias, then the case could not be sustained. The judge was of the opinion that extending the implications of a pattern or practice would shift the burden upon employers, unnecessarily, to prove that they did not discriminate against an individual employee.

The case is Simmons-Grant v. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-7706.

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