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Most everyone in Clifford Chance’s San Francisco office knew that associate Asma Hasan was a Muslim. She had written two books about Muslim culture in America and often appeared as a talking head on the Fox News Channel and other media outlets. Hasan didn’t fare as well as a litigator: She only lasted two years until she was fired in 2004. This May, Hasan, a Pakistani-American, sued for wrongful dismissal and religious discrimination, alleging that her supervisor, a Jewish female partner, set her up to fail and held “preconceived notions and stereotypes about the followers of Islam.” The dispute centers on Hasan’s public persona. Did it stoke colleagues’ biases — or distract Hasan from her work, as two Clifford Chance sources contend? Hasan, 30, claims the partner denied her billable assignments and then criticized her failure to generate revenue and her conflicts with other associates. Hasan had complained after a Jewish associate described one of her friends as “Chemical Ali” (a reference to Saddam Hussein’s head weapons scientist) and drew Hasan into “pointless debates about Middle Eastern politics.” After that, the complaint alleges, Hasan was fired on grounds of poor performance. Out of distaste for Hasan, the complaint says, the firm refused to rent a videoconference room to the U.S. State Department after Hasan signed up to promote moderate Islamic views on the government’s dime. The disgruntled associate says the firm found her purpose lacking in merit. “The evidence will unequivocally demonstrate that all decisions related to Ms. Hasan’s employment were taken for legitimate business reasons, that she was terminated for cause and that she was treated fairly,” says a Clifford Chance spokesman. The San Francisco office closed in 2004. Hasan’s supervisor, Susan Muck, declined comment. The firm did grant Hasan a month-long leave to write “Why I Am a Muslim” (Thorsons Element, 2004). The book highlights a Sufi teaching: no regrets. “I’ve learned that the biggest disappointments are almost always followed by even greater successes,” she writes. Hasan now works in Colorado as a lawyer for HealthTrio, Inc. Her lawyer Glenn Merrick, from Denver’s Senn Visciano Kirschenbaum Merrick, says, “She feels a significant injustice was done, for reasons of national origin and religion — factors that are not only unlawful but reprehensible.”

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