A black former associate of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP says he had evidence that could convince a jury that the company discriminated against him because of his race and hit back for his repeated complaints of bias, including qualifying him for misinterpretation, according to a case filed Monday in New York Federal Court.
Kaloma Cardwell sued Davis Polk, then-managing partner Thomas Reid, and seven associates in the firm’s corporate/mergers and acquisitions group in November 2019. Most of his remaining claims in the case are worthy to stand trial, he told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Evidence supporting his claims of retaliation under federal and New York state law includes 12 separate occasions when he complained to the company about racial bias or exclusion, Cardwell said. opposing the defendants. December 3 Motion for Summary Judgment.
The first of these happened in September 2015 at an affinity group meeting, when he said he experienced exclusion during his tenure at Davis Polk, Cardwell said.
He also complained to human resources, the company’s executive committee, its diversity committee and its general counsel’s office, he said.
The retaliation he suffered included receiving an unwarranted mid-year review in June 2016 and Reid’s threat in March 2017 that Cardwell would be taken “out of the game” and “off the court” if he continued to wondering why he wasn’t receiving billable hours, the filing says.
A jury could infer retaliation from the close timing between his protected bias claims and the various adverse employment actions he was subjected to, Cardwell said. This includes the month that elapsed between his August 2017 charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and being considered “behind” his class by merger partners. and acquisitions, he said.
The evidence — including Reid’s admission that the company was responsible for not recruiting Cardwell on more issues — would support the conclusion that Davis Polk’s explanations for the mistreatment were pretexts for retaliation, Cardwell said. .
His claims of discrimination under federal and state laws should also survive summary judgment, Cardwell said.
Evidence of bias includes non-black associates in his group who were also classified as “behind” their class still receiving assignments while his left almost immediately, Cardwell said. It also includes Davis Polk’s “track record when it comes to black lawyers” despite his alleged support for diversity in the workplace and his efforts to improve it, he said.
His claims of discrimination and retaliation under New York’s more liberal anti-bias law also raise issues for the lawsuit, Cardwell said.
Cardwell did not object to summary judgment on his allegations of aiding and abetting discrimination and retaliation.
David Jeffries of New York represents Cardwell. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP represents Davis Polk and the individual defendants.
The case is Cardwell v Davis Polk & Wardwell LLPSDNY, No. 1:19-cv-10256, legal notice opposing summary judgment of 02/07/22.