The Firms

August 3, 2011 6:10 PM

Alleging Racial Bias, Former Ropes & Gray Associate Sues Firm

Posted by John Hazard

A former Ropes & Gray associate has filed a racial discrimination and retaliation suit against the firm, 13 of its partners, and the firm's former chief people officer in Boston federal court, sibling publication The National Law Journal reports.

John H. Ray III, who is black, filed the case, Ray v. Ropes & Gray, on Tuesday. The partners named as defendants in the case are Randall Bodner, David Chapin, John Donovan, Keith Higgins, Jesse Jenner, Robert Jones, William Knowlton, R. Bradford Malt, David Mandel, Joan McPhee, John Montgomery, Brien O'Connor, and Othon Prounis. Ray also named former Ropes chief people officer Joy Curtis as a defendant.

Ray's claims against the firm include breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and unfair methods of competition as well as a breach-of-contract claim, according to the NLJ.

Ray claims that he was treated as a "token black associate" and a "diversity hire" despite boasting such credentials as being accepted to Harvard Law School at age 19 and clerking at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Ray's suit comes some two years after he filed a complaint against the firm with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming he had been denied the chance to advance his career because of racial bias. According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday, the NLJ reports, the EEOC's final determination of that matter was that "the evidence supports a finding that [Ropes & Gray] retaliated against [Ray] for filing his charge with the EEOC."

In a written statement provided to the NLJ, the firm said Ray's claims are baseless and "we are confident the court will dismiss the matter." The firm further said in the statement that the EEOC had found no evidence of bias in the firm's decision to deny Ray partnership.



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