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Chadbourne & Parke, which earlier this month sought to dismiss a $100 million gender bias suit filed by a current female partner, moved this week to try and quiet a former mailroom employee who issued an announcement about an e-book he wrote detailing his experience at the Am Law 200 firm nearly a decade ago.
On Monday, Richard Thomas, a 36-year-old unemployed resident of Brooklyn, New York, writing under the pen name Webster Edgewood, distributed a press release to several outlets touting the Nov. 16 release of an e-book he renamed and revised to include mention of Chadbourne’s gender bias battle with litigation partner Kerrie Campbell and former Kiev office managing partner Jaroslawa Zelinsky Johnson.
The 81-page e-book, available for $2.99 on Amazon.com, drew Chadbourne’s ire over its contents and new title: “The Law Firm That Called Me The N-Word.” (Thomas said the previous name was “Going Postal.”) All press releases announcing the availability of Thomas’ provocatively titled tome were scrubbed from the Internet by Tuesday.
In an email sent to Thomas by PRWeb.com, one of the websites he used to distribute news of his e-book, the mailroom clerk-turned-author was notified that Chadbourne claimed his press release contained defamatory statements and had requested the announcement be taken down. (PRWeb.com, like many press release posting services, removes releases subject to a dispute.)
Thomas said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon that the gender bias litigation against Chadbourne factored into his decision to revise his e-book. While Thomas hasn’t had any contact with the current litigants and has no personal knowledge about the circumstances surrounding their case, he does have his own legal history with Chadbourne.
The former mailroom clerk was once a pro se plaintiff who sued the firm for wrongful termination and racial discrimination on Oct. 17, 2008. The case, which named three other Chadbourne employees as defendants, including the firm’s manager of operations, was resolved on May 11, 2009, according to King’s County Civil Court records.
Thomas received $6,500 from the firm in a settlement. He noted that Chadbourne withheld certain taxes on that sum, which he received in late April 2009. Chadbourne strongly disputed all of Thomas’ allegations and admitted no wrongdoing as part of the deal.
One of Thomas’ claims in his suit against Chadbourne was that while working a 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift at the firm, he often had to stay a half-hour or an hour late in order to get to the massive James A. Farley Post Office in midtown Manhattan and mail out the many court documents the firm generated each day. He said that his managers in the mailroom discouraged him from putting in for overtime.
Those allegations are included in Thomas’ e-book, whose most scandalous assertion might be its new name. The e-book begins with him entering Chadbourne’s former headquarters in New York’s GE Building in July 2008 to interview for a position in the mailroom. It was a day after former firm mail clerk Adam Pomposello was killed in a workplace accident involving the conveyor belt of a mail sorter. (Chadbourne left the GE Building in 2014 and moved into office space vacated by now-defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf.)
Thomas cited Pomposello’s death in describing a difficult workplace environment in his suit against the firm. He also alleged in court that Chadbourne mailroom employees and staff made racial slurs and other inappropriate remarks. (Some of those employees, like Thomas, were African American.) In his complaint and his e-book, Thomas does not accuse any Chadbourne lawyers of using such language, a point that he reiterated in a phone conversation.
Pomposello is the only individual that Thomas identifies by their real name in his e-book, aside from Judge Noach Dear, who presided over his suit against Chadbourne. Thomas, whose Amazon.com author profile states that he has written for Foxsports.com, Fightnews.com and Boxingscene.com, said he hopes the re-release of his e-book will lead to more writing projects.
“So far I’ve sold four,” Thomas said Tuesday.
A Chadbourne spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.