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October 2014

Gordon & Rees New York Team Wins Summary Judgment in Federal Employment Discrimination Suit

A Gordon & Rees team led by prominent national trial lawyer and New York office managing partner Mercedes Colwin recently won summary judgment in a federal employment discrimination suit filed against a cutting-edge biopharmaceutical company.

The plaintiff – a former employee – alleged claims for race and gender discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation for complaining about unlawful discrimination and exercising her rights under the Family & Medical Leave Act.

The winning strategy of Ms. Colwin, assisted by New York associate Vincent Avery, was to argue, among other things, that the plaintiff failed to satisfy her prima facie burden on her discrimination claims, because she did not suffer an adverse employment action and the comments she claimed were discriminatory did not give rise to an actionable hostile work environment. In addition, Ms. Colwin argued that plaintiff could not establish that any of the company’s legitimate reasons for taking the challenged employment actions was a pretext for gender or race discrimination.  Finally, as for plaintiff’s FMLA claim, Ms. Colwin argued that the company had neither interfered with plaintiff’s right to take leave under the statute, nor had it otherwise retaliated against her for doing so. 

This victory is one of the latest for Ms. Colwin, a leading U.S. trial lawyer with 48 cases successfully tried to verdict. She is a legal analyst on the Fox News Network, where she regularly appears on legal issues involving high-profile matters. Ms. Colwin represents corporate executives and Fortune 500 clients who rely on her and her team of attorneys and experts to handle high-stakes legal matters. She is a frequent moderator, panelist and presenter on employment topics throughout the country. In June, she served as co-chair for the American Conference Institute’s 21st National Employment Practices Liability Insurance Conference.

Ms. Colwin has received numerous national recognitions, including Notre Dame Law School’s prestigious Graciela Olivarez Award, and she was named by Forbes Business American Airlines as one of the six most influential women in America, an honor she shares with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Ms. Colwin also was honored as one of the “Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys.” 

Mercedes Colwin