Law360 (May 24, 2019, 3:38 PM EDT) — Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson PA fired back Thursday against a black female attorney’s court filing accusing the law firm of using racial stereotypes in its efforts to escape her bias suit against it, saying the attorney “caustically embellishes the most outlandish allegations of her complaint.”
Robinson Bradshaw asked a North Carolina federal judge on May 2 to dismiss four state law claims from Sharika Robinson’s civil rights and deceptive trade practices lawsuit against it. Robinson, in turn, argued the suit should remain intact and accused the firm of using racial stereotypes in its motion to dismiss.
The firm responded Thursday, arguing that Robinson’s “conclusory and tendentious argument” underscores the need for the court to dismiss her breach of contract, tortious interference, fraud and deceptive trade practices claims.
“Plaintiff caustically embellishes the most outlandish allegations of her complaint but fails to address the defects in pleading her four state law counts,” the law firm’s reply brief said.
Robinson, who joined the Carolinas-based Robinson Bradshaw as an associate in 2015, accuses the firm in her suit filed in April of engaging in a pattern of gender and racial discrimination that belies its public marketing to prospective clients and employees as being committed to diversity and inclusion.
As of Friday, Robinson’s biography was no longer up on the law firm’s website.
In addition to the firm, Robinson named as defendants managing partner Allen Robertson, chair of the firm’s litigation practice Robert Harrington, and shareholders Jonathan Krisko and Gregory Skidmore.
At one point in her complaint, she categorizes the firm as being like a “contemporary version of an old-fashioned Southern plantation.”
Her complaint claims that white men at the firm routinely overlooked attorneys of color and women when delegating essential work, and that she was consistently sidelined and deprived of advancement opportunities.
Moreover, Robinson claims the firm subjected her and other women and people of color to a hostile work environment.
Robinson Bradshaw has denied her allegations, saying in statements to Law360 that the firm and its lawyers have long “been leaders in promoting diversity and inclusion” among firms in the Charlotte area and that it “does not discriminate based on race or any protected factor.”
In a statement Friday, the law firm told Law360 that Robinson “has failed to plead actionable claims under North Carolina law, and her response to the motion did not remedy that failure.”
“Accordingly, all four state law counts should be dismissed for failure to state a claim,” the statement said.
Attorneys for Robinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Robinson is represented by Carmen D. Caruso of Carmen D. Caruso Law Firm, Linda C. Chatman of Chatman Law Offices LLC and T. Greg Doucette of The Law Offices of T. Greg Doucette PLLC.
The firm is represented in-house by Charles E. Johnson and by Joshua Van Kampen of Van Kampen Law PC and Grace E. Speights and Jocelyn R. Cuttino of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.
The case is Robinson v. Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson PA et al., case number 3:19-cv-00109, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
–Additional reporting by Vin Gurrieri. Editing by Janice Carter Brown.