Former Howrey Associate Files Discrimination Suit

black-power-248x300From The National Law Journal:

Kamisha Menns, a black woman born in Jamaica, says inĀ the complaint, filed in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday, that Howrey violated the D.C. Human Rights Act by retaliating against her, creating a hostile work environment, and inflicting emotional distress, both intentionally and negligently. Menns has asked for $30 million.

According the complaint, Menns was heavily recruited by Howrey only to be subjected to discriminatory treatment once staffed in their Brussels office.

At some point after moving to Brussels, Menns says in her complaint, she began being removed from projects despite receiving compliments on her work from several partners. She says her workplace was shifted to a different floor from that of other lawyers. When she reached out to the office’s managing partner, Trevor Soames, the complaint alleges, Menns was told “that because she was an ‘impressive woman’ Ms. Menns made Howrey’s white employees feel uncomfortable.” The complaint alleges that Soames also told her that because she was the first black associate to work in the office, the office staff’s treatment of her might be influenced by the fact that “they had never before been forced to be in a ‘subordinate position’ to a black person.”

The complaint goes on to allege that the situation only got worse when she reached out to firm leaders, including the Washington-based diversity committee and CEO Robert Ruyak. In a June 2, 2009, meeting, a day after Menns sent an e-mail to Ruyak and eight members of the diversity committee outlining the allegedly discriminatory treatment, Menns was fired.

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