Firing of African-American Lawyer Upheld

December 7, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - An African-American lawyer, who claimed her former New York law firm maintained a racially hostile work environment, has had her lawsuit dismissed by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York agreed with the DLA Piper law firm that plaintiff Charlene Morisseau had not proven her racial discrimination allegations, according to the New York Law Journal.

Kaplan found that the firm had a “legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for plaintiff’s termination” in its assertions that Morisseau was combative, didn’t work well with others, and reacted badly to supervisory direction.        

Morisseau had requested almost $250 million in damages from the firm and the 11 partners she individually named in the suit.    A 2001 graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was a law review editor, Morisseau joined DLA Piper as a litigation associate in April 2003 but was asked to leave less than a year later.

She charged in the 2006 lawsuit that her firing was retaliation for complaints she had made about discriminatory treatment.

“Here, the uncontradicted evidence demonstrates that plaintiff did not perform in a manner satisfactory to Piper notwithstanding her academic credentials,” Kaplan wrote. “She was a confrontational, stubborn, and insubordinate employee in an environment in which professional personal relations, flexibility and a willingness to accept supervision were essential.”

Kaplan’s ruling in the case is  here .