Charlene Morisseau, a litigation associate in DLA Piper’s New York City office, lost a $250 million race discrimination lawsuit against the law firm. Morisseau joined the firm in 2003 and was fired in less than a year. She claimed the firing was in retaliation for complaints she made about discriminatory conduct at the firm.
DLA Piper said it fired Morisseau because of a pattern of unacceptable behavior, including yelling at partners and ordering one out of her office.
Southern District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan seemed to encounter the same problems with Morisseau’s performance in court. Kaplan said Morisseau “defied court orders, ignored schedules, failed to show up for or obstructed her deposition, and filed frivolous applications.” Because of this, Kaplan accepted DLA Piper’s version of events, finding that Morisseau was fired because she was “confrontational, stubborn and insubordinate.”
Tip: Your best defense against retaliation claims is a well-documented, clearly stated business reason for termination.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Clarify your vacation policy or cough up extra pay
- Excessive absences justify firing—And bar unemployment compensation
- No sovereign immunity for public school bodies
- When worried about religious accommodation, keep lines of communication open