White & Case LA office in harassment scandal

White & Case has drafted in Seyfarth Shaw to defend it against an explosive discrimination and harassment claim by a gay senior associate.

Los Angeles (LA)-based corporate associate Chris-topher ‘Marty’ Meekins filed a claim earlier this month detailing a raft of allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. It alleges that two LA partners, Jerry Bloom and James Cairns, created an “intimidating, hostile and offensive work environment” with relentless inappropriate comments and behaviour.

Meekins claims that Bloom and Cairns made repeated unwelcome sexual advances, engaged in stalking behaviour and frequently commented on Meekins’ appearance and sex life. The claim alleges that, once he had rebuffed the advances, the firm retaliated against Meekins, withholding work and denying him a promotion.

Richard Smith, the head of White & Case’s LA office, is also named as a defendant in the suit. Bloom, Cairns and Smith continue as partners at the firm, while Meekins is still working in the LA office as a senior associate.

Ironically, Meekins is leading White & Case’s pro bono efforts against the US government to bring an end to the ban on gays in the US military.

White & Case has instructed Seyfarth Shaw partner David Kadue on its defence, while Meekins has turned to Michael Bononi of Bononi Law Group.

The firm said in a statement that its internal investigation had uncovered no evidence to support Meekins’ claims.

The statement added: “If, contrary to our expectations, there is a basis for those allegations, the firm will take appropriate action to remedy the situation.

“White & Case does not tolerate sexual harassment or sex discrimination in our firm and we are committed to fostering a work environment that actively promotes greater diversity and inclusion in gender, racial, ethnic and sexual orientation at all levels of the firm.”