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Ex-Wilson Elser Lawyer Sues Firm Alleging Disability, Leave Bias

June 22, 2022, 3:45 PM

Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP failed to accommodate a litigator’s acute stress disorder and physical disabilities, which could have included moving him to a different team, and then illegally fired him, a new lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan alleged.

According to Robert W. Gordon, he sought reassignment to get away from equity partner Rory L. Lubin.

Lubin was Gordon’s supervisor after he was hired in 2016 and Wilson Elser knew Lubin’s “litigation and management style aggravated Gordon’s disabilities,” the suit said filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York said. One option of the reassignment Gordon requested would have put him on a team doing more appellate work, which aligned with the recommendations of Gordon’s clinical neuropsychologist, the suit said.

But equity partner Stuart Miller, who was the head of Gordon’s and Miller’s practice group, immediately denied the request, the suit said. That came after Wilson Elser failed to provide Gordon with any of the six workplace accommodations that his doctor identified as “crucial” for Gordon to continue to perform legal work, the suit said.

The firm never explained to him how his requested accommodations would have posed an undue hardship for its business, Gordon said. It also didn’t engage in the interactive process required by New York state and city anti-bias laws and never asked him to submit to additional medical testing or provide any additional medical documentation, he said.

Gordon instead was fired by an “unusually chipper” Lubin on Feb. 1, five days after asking to be transferred from Lubin’s team, the lawsuit said.

The firm cited bogus performance issues about which it never gave Gordon prior notice, the suit said.

That performance-based explanation was a pretext for disability discrimination and interference with his federal leave rights, Gordon said. He also accuses Wilson Elser of breach of contract.

The suit names Wilson Elser, Lubin, and Miller as co-defendants.

Causes of Action: New York State Human Rights Law; New York City Human Rights Law; Family and Medical Leave Act; breach of contract.

Relief: Order requiring firm to implement reasonable accommodation policy that complies with New York state and city laws and to provide training to supervisors and human resources employees; damages for monetary losses including past and future earnings, bonuses, compensation, and other job benefits; damages for mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, and emotional injury; punitive damages under NYSHRL and NYCHRL; liquidated damages under FMLA; attorneys’ fees and costs.

Response: Wilson Elser didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

Attorneys: Maduegbuna Cooper LLP represents Gordon.

The case is Gordon v. Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, S.D.N.Y., No. 1:22-cv-05212, complaint filed 6/21/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com