A race discrimination suit against Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan brought by a former contract attorney has been dismissed. Kisshia Simmons-Grant, in a 2011 complaint in Simmons-Grant v. Quinn Emanuel, 1:11-cv-07706, said that as a black contract attorney she was assigned less lucrative work than non-black contract attorneys at Quinn. She claims the firm discriminated against her because of her race and then gave her no choice but to quit in 2010 after she complained. To support her claims, she offered statistical evidence to show full-time black contract lawyers billed fewer hours compared with all other full-time contract attorneys at Quinn during a certain period.
But Southern District Judge Laura Taylor Swain (See Profile), in granting Quinn’s summary judgment motion, said individual private plaintiffs must prove they were individually the victims of intentional bias. Extending the “pattern or practice” method of proof to the non-class context would allow non-class private plaintiffs “to shift the burden to employers to prove that they did not discriminate against a particular individual,” she wrote, citing a Second Circuit decision in Chin v. Port Authority, 685 F.3d 135 (2012).
Simmons-Grant’s attorney, James Halter, a partner at Liddle & Robinson, said the judge didn’t take any action on his client’s city and state discrimination claims. He declined to comment on whether his client will seek to continue the case. Lawrence Sandak, a partner at Proskauer Rose, represents Quinn Emanuel. Neither he nor the firm returned messages seeking comment.