Foley & Lardner partner loses discrimination suit

September 3, 2014 A Foley & Lardner partner who claimed that the firm discriminated against him - by paying him less than minority, female and younger partners - has lost his federal appeal.

Carey had claimed discrimination on the basis of gender, race and age, and violation of the Equal Pay Act. Such discrimination is usually thought to be the struggle faced by female and minority lawyers, but this matter asked whether Carey, a white, male lawyer approaching his 60th year, was suffering from discrimination.

Raymond Carey’s appeal was rejected on the basis that he failed to prove that his work was substantially similar to that of higher paid partners. Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that:“Whether two attorneys perform ‘equal work’ depends on the size and scope of the attorney’s cases, the importance of his or her practice group to the firm’s financial health, his or her responsibility for recruiting and mentoring associates, and his or her leadership role in the firm, among other factors.”

Carey was a partner in the labor and employment group, and his pay ranged from around $388,000 in 2007-08, when he had 1,936 billable hours, to about $481,500 in 2010-11, when he had 1,744 billable hours.

Foley & Lardner’s compensation formula took into account a range of factors including billings, skill level, teamwork, mentoring and sharing of work with associates. The judicial opinion pointed out that in determining Carey’s compensation, the firm considered complaints that Carey was a “silo” and “one man band” who didn’t push enough work down to associates.

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