A Korean-American attorney says in a new lawsuit that national law firm Greenspoon Marder LLP suddenly terminated him on 10 days’ notice because of his race and national origin.
The discriminatory firing came just over two years after he joined Greenspoon as a shareholder and has left him “with no job and diminished prospects,” Jun Chul Whang alleges in his Jan. 25 complaint. The bias was a continuation of mistreatment he was subjected to throughout his 24 years with New York litigation boutique Jacob, Medinger & Finnegan LLP, which merged with Greenspoon in April 2016, Whang says.
JMF’s all-white equity partnership took years longer to promote him than it did less-productive white lawyers, Whang tells the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The discrimination occurred even though he attracted several lawyers of Korean descent to JMF, he says. He and his fellow Korean attorneys helped grow JMF’s practice by bringing in a range of new corporate and other clients, Whang says.
Nevertheless, when the local counsel on a legal matter in Poland asked that Whang not be named lead attorney on the case, JMF acceded, the complaint says. The Polish lawyer made clear the move was based on Whang’s ethnicity and JMF admitted to Whang that it was discriminatory, the lawsuit says.
Four white partners went to Greenspoon with Whang and the five attorneys remained as a separate practice group following the merger, the complaint asserts. The group was on the cusp of starting new projects for its major client when Greenspoon decided to fire him, Whang says.
A white former JMF partner was offered an of-counsel role with Greenspoon at the same time that Whang was fired, despite that attorney already having plans to retire, the complaint says.
Greenspoon’s abrupt firing of Whang was “a conscious, measured decision” to favor the white lawyers in his practice group over him, in violation of federal and New York City anti-bias laws, the lawsuit says.
Greenspoon didn’t immediately respond Jan. 25 to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.
Law Offices of Veronica S. Jung PLLC represents Whang. No attorney had filed an appearance yet for Greenspoon Marder.
The case is Whang v. Greenspoon Marder LLP, S.D.N.Y., No. 1:19-cv-00752, complaint filed 1/25/19.
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