Posted January 28th, 2010.
As it appeared in JD Journal
Kamisha Menns, a former associate at Howrey, filed a $30 million suit against the firm in DC superior court yesterday, alleging that she was routinely subjected to discriminatory treatment based on her race. In the complaint Menns states that Howrey violated the DC Human Rights Act by creating a hostile work environment, retaliating against her, and intentionally and negligently inflicting emotional distress.
Menns worked in the Brussels’ office beginning January 19, 2009 after being heavily recruited by the firm. She was paid a signing bonus of 10,000 Euros to cover her moving costs. Despite praise from several partners she worked with, Menns was removed from several projects and her office moved to a different floor from other lawyers. Menns states that when she took her concerns to managing partner Trevor Soames, she was told that because she was “an impressive woman” the white employees at the firm felt “uncomfortable” working around her. According to Menns Soames went on to state that because she was the first black associate to work in the office the staff’s treatment might be influenced by the fact that they had never been forced to “be in a subordinate position to a black person.”
Menns alleges that when she reached out to leaders at the firm including the DC based diversity committee and CEO Robert Ruyak by outlining her complaint in an email, she was fired. She says she has been unable to find employment since because the firm has accused her of leaving with confidential documents. Menns is represented by David Sanford of employment boutique Sanford, Wittels, & Heisler.