A Washington federal judge granted Williams & Connolly summary judgment in a suit brought against the firm by a former secretary.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan filed his opinion under seal yesterday, noting in his order (PDF) – which was published – that redactions were needed to block out sections containing confidential information. Several firm attorneys and staff were named in motions filings, along with detailed information about pay and internal incidents, much of which was redacted.
Sullivan gave attorneys on both sides until April 15 to agree to redactions from his opinion so that it can be published.
“The parties are cautioned, however, that given the strong presumption in favor of public access to judicial records … redactions shall be made solely to the extent necessary to preserve the confidential or proprietary nature of the relevant information,” he wrote. “Any party that abuses the redaction process may be sanctioned by the Court.”
Julie Gaskins, who worked as a secretary at the firm from 2005 until she resigned in early 2007, claimed (PDF) she was mistreated, received less pay and was denied opportunities for advancement because of her race. She also accused the firm of retaliating against her once she brought her concerns to firm managers. Her attorney, Bethesda-based solo practitioner Eugene Kane Jr., did not immediately return a request for comment this morning. Contact information for Gaskins was unavailable.
In arguing for summary judgment (PDF), the firm claimed Gaskins based her assertions of racial discrimination on rumors and false information about what other secretaries were earning. They also claimed Gaskin’s didn’t get certain jobs she applied for within the firm because she was less qualified than other candidates, and denied taking any steps to retaliate against her.
Lead counsel for Williams & Connolly was Barbara Brown of Washington’s Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker. Neither Brown nor a representative from the firm immediately returned a request for comment.