Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton Sued by Former Attorney
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Summary: The law firm of Cleary Gottlieb has been sued by a former project attorney, Lyle Silva, who is representing himself in the lawsuit. 

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton has been sued by a former project attorney for racial discrimination, according to The National Law Journal.


The lawsuit stems from the lawyer having his job cut as white colleagues avoided layoffs and furloughs with the firm.

The lawyer who sued the firm is Lyle Silva, from Bowie, Maryland. Silva, 41, is black and worked as an at-will lawyer with the firm’s Washington office. He was hired in the middle of 2011 and worked at the firm for close to one year.

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The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in federal district court in Washington.

Silva worked on a project involving a banking regulation issue and a federal investigation launched against a coal mine explosion in West Virginia. Silva noted that he always received positive feedback while working for the firm.

Silva said he received handwritten thank-you notes from his supervisor and a $2,500 bonus when 2011 came to an end.

The work on the coal mine case ended in July of 2012, according to the complaint. Silva needed to find a new assignment. Instead of receiving a new assignment, he and a Hispanic woman were furloughed by the firm.

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Two weeks later, the law firm cut Silva’s position and the female attorney’s position. Silva said that white project attorneys were reassigned to new tasks.

A conference call was used to tell Silva his position had been eliminated. The call included senior attorney Tom Hall and Delante Stevens, the staff attorney at Cleary who hired Silva. The complaint said that Silva’s work performance was not an issue for termination.

Silva spoke with the National Law Journal this week and said that Cleary superiors based their decision to eliminate his job based on his results from an essay test. The essay was part of the “privilege exam” admitted during the hiring process.

No one from Cleary commented on the lawsuit.

Silva is representing himself and is asking for compensation for lost benefits, lost pay and damages for the lack of career advancement opportunities. Silva would not say if he is employed with another law firm, but did say he is still working in the legal industry.

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Image credit: Cleary Gottlieb


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