A federal judge in Washington has given new life to one of the allegations in former Covington & Burling staff attorney Yolanda Young’s racial discrimination suit against the firm. In an opinion handed down today, Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted part of Young’s motion to reconsider a previous order that dismissed several of Young’s allegations.
Citing the Supreme Court’s May 24 decision in Lewis v. City of Chicago, which found that a plaintiff need not prove deliberate discrimination in disparate impact claims, Walton determined that Young should be allowed to go forward with her adverse impact claim related to Covington’s job-assignment policy and its policy of not promoting staff attorneys to associate.
Walton writes in today’s opinion that in light of Lewis, “the precedential value of cases considered by the court in its memorandum opinion in analyzing the plaintiff’s disparate-treatment claim is now unsound.” Walton also writes, “In those cases, a showing of discriminatory intent within the limitation period was required; thus, the court’s application of those cases is now erroneous since the Supreme Court has made clear that a disparate-impact claim does not require proof of intent.”
In a January 28 opinion, Walton dismissed Young's allegation that the firm's policy of not promoting staff attorneys was discriminatory. Young, who is black, had argued that by not promoting staff attorneys, whom she claims are disproportionately black, the firm had instituted a discriminatory policy.
Walton wrote in that opinion that because Young had waited until 2008 to file a claim against the firm’s non-promotion policy, which was implemented in 2006, she had missed her window.
Today’s opinion does not, however, allow Young’s negligent supervision claim to go forward. Walton writes that Young, who is being represented by Latif Doman, a name partner at Washington-based Doman Davis, failed to sufficiently prove a common law claim for that allegation.
Michele Roberts, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld representing Covington, did not immediately return calls for comment. Doman could not be reached for comment.