A former staff attorney at Covington & Burling has filed suit in D.C. Superior Court against the firm alleging that in 2006 she was subjected to months of ethnic and racial slurs by white staff attorneys, The AmLaw Daily reports.
Yolanda Young, an African-American lawyer who wrote a controversial column for The Huffington Post on racial segregation at big law firms, says that after months of performance reviews in which she was lauded for her work performance, she was not given access to training that her white counterparts received. Young also says that her annual bonus in 2007 was $4,000 less than the $9,000 one she had received the previous year and less than the one given to her white colleague Sarah Wittig, who is also a former staff attorney at the firm. Along with Wittig, Young’s complaint names as defendants litigation partners Patrick Davies and Stephen Anthony, former associate Caroline Reynolds, who is now with Zuckerman Spaeder, and former staff attorney Vanessa Natale.
Young’s complaint goes on to accuse the firm of refusing to rehire her after she was terminated in August 2007, despite the firm rehiring several staff attorneys with "less seniority and lower billable hours" than herself.
In a statement given to The AmLaw Daily, the firm’s outside counsel Michele Roberts, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, says, “While saddened that Ms. Young has chosen to make these false allegations, Covington & Burling intends to vigorously defend against them. Ms. Young's assertions overlook fundamental differences between the work of staff attorneys and other firm lawyers. Ms. Young's allegations also fail to account for the important roles played by African American lawyers at [Covington] . . . [her] assertions unfairly demean all of these attorneys."