So far, the EEOC hasn't thought much of the complaint, but did toss the lawyer, John H. Ray III, a bone by finding that his dismissal from the firm was in retaliation for filing a complaint with the EEOC. Ray, a Harvard Law graduate, is now cleared to file a discrimination lawsuit against the firm.
What's funny about the case—and what qualifies the situation for "diversenfreude" status—are the impressive lengths Ropes & Gray has gone to in order to avoid charges of "racism". Ray was actually the first black attorney whose partnership candidacy was rejected by the firm. Ropes & Gray is No. 12 on the list of the top 20 best firms for "lawyers of color." And black lawyers statistically stand a better chance of getting hired after the call-back interview than white lawyers.
In other words, Ropes & Gray has been putting in a lot of billable hours toward "non-racist" status... an effort that does seem to have helped stoke the EEOC's skepticism. By a sort of "protection racket" reasoning, this may have paid off: faced with a truly bad black candidate, the firm had a little capital to spend down and could safely fire him.
But it all comes at a cost. For one, we'll never know which white lawyers had to suffer a rejection letter so that Ropes & Gray could preen as "non-racist." We'll never know the cost to the firm and its clients of promoting along less egregious—but still not excellent—black lawyers. Meanwhile, although their litigation position looks secure, they're still dragged through the mud and distracted by the attention.
View her picture, read her bio, and see what I mean. She reminds me of the moniker attached to another prestige firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell, which was known as "the teahouse", because of all the Asian female attorneys running around. Asian females are a good way to get diversity credit without sacrificing intelligence or work quality.)
Radio host James Edwards observes that no matter how hard whites try, they're never going to dodge the "racism" charge. It just comes with being white. I doubt any Ropes & Gray partners listen to his show, but they might learn something.