Saturday, December 12, 2009

Akin Gump: What Were Race and Lassman Looking For?

In its no probable cause finding dated June 30, 1993 the District of Columbia Department of Human Rights and Minority Business Development made the following finding of fact:

Finding of Fact No.4.: "On October 23, 1991, at his request, Complainant met with Respondent’s managers, Earl Segal, partner in charge of Legal Assistants, Malcolm Lassman, Managing Partner and Dennis Race, Partner. Complainant stated that he was being harassed based on his religion, Jewish and his sexual orientation, homosexual. Complainant described a variety of incidents which he believed constituted unlawful harassment including the following:

(a) On the second day of Complainant's assignment with Respondent, as an agency-supplied temporary employee, March 4, 1988, Complainant introduced himself to a male employee outside whose office Complainant was working. A brief time after Complainant introduced himself, a group of employees gathered in the office adjacent to the work station where Complainant was working. The employees proceeded to engage in a lively and mildly sexually suggestive discussion about the size of the male employee’s chest and whether it was hairy or not. The discussion lasted about two minutes." (Record on appeal at 12-13).

The text is drawn verbatim from my own submission to the agency, dated January 1993, written in reply to Akin Gump's Interrogatory Response, dated May 22, 1992. From the above incident and nine other incidents enumerated by the agency, the impression left on the reader is that I am a hypersensitive and somewhat deluded individual who attaches a "negative meaning to trivial events," as alleged by Akin Gump.

That impression changes, perhaps markedly, if we look at the text I provided that discusses the reaction of Dennis M. Race, Esq. and Malcolm Lassman, Esq. to my harassment report. It is clear that Race and Lassman did not appear to be incredulous or disbelieving. In fact, the picture that emerges from the following paragraph is that Race and Lassman were keenly interested in my report: they wanted to know the identity of people I reported as harassers, they wanted to know their position in the firm. Race and Lassman repeated their questions insistently. At the time I felt that they took my report seriously. Indeed, their behavior suggests -- even indicates -- that they took my report seriously.

Also, note the similarity between the behavior of Race and Lassman ("Messrs. Race and Lassman appeared to want to gather the names of as many harassers as Complainant could possibly name.") and the behavior of my psychiatrist, Stanley R. Palombo, M.D., who stated insistently to me in early 1990 in response to my allegation that I was being harassed at Akin Gump: "Name names!"

The text of my submission to the Department of Human Rights following the text (reproduced above) designated by the agency as finding of fact 4(a) states:

"In response to a question by either Mr. Race or Mr. Lassman, Complainant stated that he believed that the male employee in question was either a legal assistant or staff person, but not an attorney. Complainant stated that he did not recall the name of the male employee. Complainant further stated, in response to a question, that he did not know the status of the other employees--whether they were attorneys, legal assistants, or staff persons. Complainant had to explain, in response to repeated questions by Messrs. Race and Lassman, that the incident had occurred on the second day of his assignment with the Respondent and that Complainant did not know the identity of many of Respondent’s employees as of March 4, 1988. Messrs. Race and Lassman appeared to want to gather the names of as many harassers as Complainant could possibly name." (Record at 68).

One is left with the impression that Race and Lassman knew or suspected that I was, in fact, being harassed and they wanted to know whether the harasser's identities matched their own list of suspected persons. The behavior of Race and Lassman supports (at least in my mind) that there was something political going on in the firm about which management had some independent knowledge, and they wanted to know if the information I could provide supported their independent suspicions.

No comments: