If you are new to Above the Law, you might not remember Yolanda Young. She’s an African-American woman who used to work as a staff attorney at Covington & Burling. Some time ago, she sued the firm for racial and gender discrimination. You can read all about her claims here.
Regular readers of this site are already thinking: “Wait, didn’t that suit get dismissed?” ATL veterans are working on their obese/race-baiting/marine mammal mad libs as we speak.
But before we get to those fresh horrors, you all should know something: a federal judge has reinstated part of Yolanda Young’s case against Covington…
Young’s disparate-impact claim was initially dismissed as time-barred, but a new Supreme Court ruling made Judge Reggie Walton (D.D.C.) reconsider his earlier ruling. The Blog of the Legal Times reports (gavel bang: WSJ Law Blog):
Citing the Supreme Court’s May 24 decision in Lewis v. City of Chicago, which found that a plaintiff need not prove deliberate discrimination in disparate impact claims, Walton determined that Young should be allowed to go forward with her adverse impact claim related to Covington’s job-assignment policy and its policy of not promoting staff attorneys to associate.
Walton writes in today’s opinion that in light of Lewis, “the precedential value of cases considered by the court in its memorandum opinion in analyzing the plaintiff’s disparate-treatment claim is now unsound.” Walton also writes, “In those cases, a showing of discriminatory intent within the limitation period was required; thus, the court’s application of those cases is now erroneous since the Supreme Court has made clear that a disparate-impact claim does not require proof of intent.”
Good old disparate-impact — long may she reign. The analysis takes us out of the realm of what is in people’s hearts and minds, and puts us squarely in the realm of outcomes that can be illustrated with statistics and other evidence.
Speaking of outcomes, it looks like Covington will have to deal with Yolanda Young a little while longer. That should be fun for them, and fun for Attorney General Eric Holder. He was at Covington while Young was there and has defended the firm in public remarks.
And if you can’t get excited about the (distant and unlikely) possibility of the first black U.S.A.G. taking the stand to defend his former firm from a claim of racial discrimination, well, then you just don’t know how to have any fun.
Judge To Allow Previously Dismissed Claim Against Covington in Discrimination Suit [The BLT: Blog of the Legal Times]
Judge Revives Discrimination Claim Against Covington [WSJ Law Blog]