A federal judge in Washington has set a May 16, 2011 trial date in a discrimination suit filed against Ballard Spahr by a former secretary. The setting of a trial date is the first action in the case since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit remanded the case in June.

The case stems from the 2004 firing of Vanessa McFadden, who had worked in the firm’s Washington office as a legal secretary since 1989. According to her complaint, McFadden took a leave of absence from the firm in Oct. 2002, when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. McFadden began to have health problems of her own in April 2003, the complaint said.