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August 2017

New York Team Prevails in Employment Arbitration on Behalf of National Law Firm

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani lead partner Mercedes Colwin, senior counsel Kuuku Minnah-Donkoh and associate Michael Nesse prevailed at arbitration and obtained a complete dismissal on behalf of their clients, a national litigation defense law firm and a prominent partner.

The claimant/plaintiff, a former associate, initially filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York asserting allegations of sexual harassment/hostile work environment, gender discrimination, and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the New York City Human Rights Law; claims of disability discrimination and retaliation under the New York City Human Rights Law and Americans with Disabilities Act; claims of retaliation and interference with rights under the Family Medical Leave Act; and claims of vicarious liability and aiding and abetting discriminatory conduct under the New York City Human Rights Law. 

Specifically, the claimant alleged that her supervisor subjected her to sexual harassment and gender discrimination. She claimed that her supervisor made demeaning comments about women, frequently commented about her sex-life with her husband, constantly criticized her work and removed cases from her and other female associates.  The claimant further alleged that, after complaining about her supervisor and after taking an FMLA-approved leave of absence for a mental breakdown that she allegedly suffered because of her supervisor’s treatment, her supervisor and the firm retaliated against her by taking cases away from her, shutting her out socially and ultimately terminating her employment.  Specifically, in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs, the claimant was seeking more than $13 million dollars in damages for back pay, front pay, emotional distress and punitive damages.

Early on in the case, defense counsel successfully obtained an order staying the federal lawsuit and compelling arbitration pursuant to an arbitration policy contained in the client’s employee handbook.  After litigating the case for more than two years, defense counsel brought the case to arbitration where it introduced more than 200 exhibits and put on 13 witnesses during the course of a five-day hearing that produced approximately 2,000 pages of testimony. During the hearing, defense counsel had moved for a directed verdict and obtained a dismissal of the claimant's Family Medical Leave Act claims.  Following the conclusion of the hearings and the submission of the parties’ post-hearing briefs, the arbitrator rendered judgment for the respondents and dismissed all of the remaining claims.

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Mercedes Colwin
Kuuku Minnah-Donkoh
Michael J. Nesse



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