NEW YORK, May 16 (Reuters) - A lawyer's wrongful termination
lawsuit against Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom was
properly dismissed last year by a New York judge, an appeals
court ruled Tuesday.
Rita Gordon, who was fired from the law firm in 2006,
claimed Skadden had terminated her because of her age and gender
in order to replace her with a younger, male lawyer.
But the law firm said she improperly billed to clients tens
of thousands of dollars in car service charges for her own
personal use, including rides between her home and the office.
In her original complaint, filed six years ago, Gordon
argued that the car rides were a legitimate business expense
because she often took work home with her and could not carry a
heavy suitcase filled with documents up and down subway stairs
due to a chronic back injury. The firm's allegations were simply
an excuse to fire her, she argued.
But the Appellate Division, First Department, found that
State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling in Manhattan did not
abuse his discretion in finding that the firm had offered
legitimate reasons for her termination when he dismissed the
"The motion court properly determined that plaintiff failed
to meet her burden of showing that she was discharged under
circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination," a
unanimous five-judge appeals court panel wrote in an unsigned
Gordon declined to comment Wednesday, referring questions to
her lawyer, John Balestriere, who said a decision on whether to
appeal had not yet been made.
"As Ms. Gordon has maintained consistently throughout the
years of this litigation, the firm wrongfully terminated her
because the firm's senior partners did not think she fit in," he
said in an email. "Ms. Gordon never hid that she used the car
service for years, without complaint by anyone until right
before she was terminated."
A lawyer for Skadden did not return a request for comment.
The case is Gordon v. Kadet et al., Appellate Division,
First Department, No. 7637A.
For Gordon: John Balestriere of Balestriere Fariello
For Skadden: Bettina Plevan of Proskauer Rose
(Reporting by Joseph Ax)
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