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The federal appeals court in Atlanta didn’t take long to deny a former BellSouth Corp. lawyer’s bid to revive her racial discrimination suit against the company. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 24 affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment to BellSouth in the suit filed by Lisa B. Hogan, a former BellSouth attorney. The decision came six days after the court heard oral arguments. Hogan v. BellSouth, No. 04-14475. BellSouth declined to comment further on the case, said spokesman Jeff Battcher. At oral argument, the attorney representing BellSouth, James H. Coil III of Kilpatrick Stockton, said race played no role in former BellSouth General Counsel Charles R. Morgan’s decision to fire Hogan in 2000. Coil told the 11th Circuit panel that Hogan failed to provide good client service, didn’t take responsibility for her actions, and didn’t meet BellSouth’s standards for earning clients’ acceptance, trust and respect. At one point during the Aug. 18 oral arguments, Judge Edward E. Carnes zeroed in on a phone meeting between Hogan and the general counsel for Florida’s state utility commission, a key contact for BellSouth’s business. According to BellSouth’s appeals brief, the meeting ended with the general counsel hanging up on Hogan. “I don’t see why they didn’t fire her the instant that guy slams down the phone,” Carnes said. “I don’t see why any company should have to put up with that � she, as an employee, is costing this corporation.” In a written statement issued after the appeals court’s decision, Hogan, who now works for Coffey & Wright in Miami, said BellSouth’s explanation for her firing is “a smokescreen to cover the institutional racism in the legal department.” Hogan and her attorney, Charles R. Bridgers of Delong Caldwell Bridgers, claimed that BellSouth did not disclose some personnel documents that supported their case. BellSouth disputed that claim. The 11th Circuit’s one-sentence opinion affirmed the grant of summary judgment “on the basis of the thorough and well-reasoned discussion of the issues” by U.S. Magistrate Gerrilyn G. Brill and U.S. District Court Judge Richard W. Story. The per curiam decision came from Carnes, Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr. and Senior Judge Peter T. Fay. Hogan’s statement did not say whether she would appeal the decision to the full 11th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court. Hogan’s suit targeted — and opened a window on — one of the best-publicized, most-vocal corporate supporters of diversity in legal hiring. Morgan hired Hogan in 1998 as he spearheaded a campaign to make corporate legal departments more racially diverse. Hogan is African-American. She has a master’s in public administration from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Texas. According to her appeals brief, she worked for New York’s Hughes Hubbard & Reed, represented IBM and worked for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of Florida. BellSouth hired Hogan while Morgan was championing the cause of improving diversity in corporate legal departments. In 1999, Morgan wrote a statement promoting diversity within law firms. About 460 chief legal officers, representing some of the nation’s most-prominent corporations, signed the pledge. Morgan went to the White House that year to support President Clinton’s call for the legal profession to improve diversity. Hogan claimed in her appeal that Morgan told her to expect resistance within BellSouth’s legal department because some employees didn’t support Morgan’s views on diversity. Hogan claimed that biased employees contributed to an unfair and inaccurate assessment of her work. Hogan said in her statement that while an overwhelming majority of her colleagues “were wonderful people,” her firing resulted from discrimination as well as “my refusal to sanction or sign off on illegal, unethical, improper or discriminatory conduct by a handful of employees.” Alluding to an ongoing class action race discrimination suit against her former employer in federal court in Alabama, Hogan said that despite the positive press coverage of BellSouth’s diversity initiatives, equality is “not yet a reality for many of BellSouth’s long-suffering minority employees. “

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