How many times do people feel a twinge of misogyny, racism, anti-LGTBQ bias, or just that they work in an “old-boys network”?  And when asked for examples, they might seem trivial, but the person knows in their heart that they aren’t? 

The defense bar got a bombshell last week when the New York Post published excerpts of emails from two top rainmakers at one law firm, who had left to form another competitor firm, taking 100+ or so colleagues with them.  The original law firm says there was a complaint after they left, which prompted an investigation, and the discovery of emails with vile language (that were then given/leaked to the New York Post).  Only time will tell if the original firm knew or should have known.

So what’s the big deal?  Well the scope of vile language used by employment defense attorneys who should know better!

  • Describing a Los Angeles judge as “sugar t-ts” and commenting about the “huge t-ts” of a female colleague. 
  • Belittling a colleague who was upset when the term “n-g–r” was used repeatedly at a mediation, and make disparaging comments about “f—king looters” after the death of George Floyd.   
  • Referring to a rival attorney as a “f-gg-t” (anti-LGBTQ slur).
  • Joking about purposely emailing an opposing counsel on Saturday after he mentioned he observed Shabbat. 
  • Referring to the other as a “Jew” because he owed him money. 

Are we shocked?  Yes.  Surprised?  Well, maybe that they boldly used firm email for such vile language, but not so surprised that it was used.

After the news came out, colleagues of mine were wildly emailing each other.  People who knew these individuals and worked with them are broken hearted.  These were nice guys – allies in diversity terms.  And the sheer audacity of forming a new firm, taking colleagues with you, and positioning that firm as one for “empathy, collaboration and compassion” is just so …. Ironic?  Tragic? 

Honestly, on the one hand, it makes me feel validated; no many people are not imagining these things.  On the other hand it just makes me sad that this still happens at work.    

Yes, there have been strides made with #MeToo, but there is so much more work to do.  No one should have to deal with sexism, misogyny, racism, and antisemitism, especially at work.  And no one should be so arrogant to assume that the rules don’t apply to them. 

#Juneteenth, #Pridemonth, #diversitymatters, #metoo