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Ropes Continues to Fight Against Ex-Association Discrimination Suit
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John Ray III continues to pile on new filings to an old and dead case. He was fired from Ropes & Gray in December of 2008 when they chose to not make him a ninth-year associate, and hence not a partner, but agreed he could collect salary and call himself a partner for six months while he found new work. Ray filed a suit that he had been discriminated against and had been treated as a “token black associate” and a “diversity hire.” His suit referenced the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC determined on January 24, 2011 that this was not the case, that Ray had not been discriminated against by Ropes when they let him go, but they did say he had been retaliated against. The latest filings claim that the acts of retaliation included barring Ray from entering its Boston headquarters and failing to give him a promised recommendation letter.

The firm clarified that they terminated him as of June 30, 2009, “because of work that was well below our partnership standards, his fractured relationship with colleagues and allegations of inappropriate behavior with subordinates,” as reported by AM Law Daily.

The reason he was barred entry was that he had been effectively fired, as of December, before he had filed an EEOC complaint, and as for the recommendation letter, Ropes regarded his allegations as “scurrilous,” and “as a matter of law, no defendant should be forced to provide a dishonest recommendation letter.”

  
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The partner Randall Bodner explained why he did not write the letter: “Given the fact that I believe you are bringing a groundless claim for your own personal benefit, I simply do not feel now that I can write a recommendation in good conscience, especially for another organization I deeply care about.”

Further investigation into Ray’s emails prior to the complaint showed no indication he believed he had been discriminated against, as he himself framed the situation as Ropes making an “economic decision” not to take him on. He mentioned nothing of discrimination and seemed to be framing the decision as something neutral regarding his work, let alone his race or any bias against him. For this reason, Ropes argues that “The inference that plaintiff’s discrimination case was a post-hoc invention at securing a large sum of money from Ropes & Gray follows inescapably.”

How long the litigation can linger on is another matter, but it seems pretty solid that the case will be Ropes’.

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