Writer says Harding Mazzotti fired him for speaking out about racial injustice


ALBANY — A legal clerk is suing his former employer, the law firm Harding Mazzotti, alleging employment discrimination and wrongful termination that he says occurred after he tried to make the firm aware of racial and social grievances following the 2020 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Eric F. Wright Sr., who is Black and is representing himself in the federal case, wrote in legal papers that his termination on November 18, 2020, was “unlawfully motivated by conscious and unconscious bias due to race, skin color, and political advocacy.” On social justice.”

A lawyer for the company said Wright was fired for sexually harassing and intimidating two female co-workers.

Wright, 46, denies these accusations.

“Soon after Mr. Wright began spreading awareness about anti-racism measures and what it meant to be a black American in all white spaces, he was fired,” said an amended lawsuit filed in June by Wright in US District Court. “Simply put, Mr. Wright was fired by Defendant because Wright was a black social justice activist whose outspokenness or race embarrassed Defendant’s law firm and made its predominantly non-Black workforce uncomfortable.”

Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is listed as defendants. They rebranded as Harding Mazzotti LLP earlier this year.

The company, which serves New York, Vermont and Massachusetts, recently filed a court application with dozens of pages of case law and documents asking the judge to either dismiss the case or rule in its favor on the grounds that “there is no real case to be prosecuted” over allegations that Wright was treated differently from his colleagues because of his race. .

“He is not alleging any specific facts showing that his termination was related to his race, national origin, or gender, or that he objected to an illegal action.”
“The practice of work, or he was exposed to hostility so widespread or severe that it led to a change in his working conditions,” the request states.

In addition, the document asserts that the civil lawsuit was filed 90 days after Wright filed a lawsuit after the EEOC office in Buffalo dismissed his discrimination lawsuit against the law firm. The EEOC’s July 12, 2021 letter also told him that the clock was ticking on his “right to sue.”

This development prompted Wright to fire his attorney and also led to a lawsuit against the EEOC and its director, a lawsuit that is still pending.

Wright wrote in his complaint that all he did was compliment his former boss on her “nice uniform” and “ornate buttons” and “was teasing” another colleague, a paralegal, about riding in her new car on short notice. conversation.

In the civil suit, he asserts that the sexual harassment accusations against him are “desperate and utterly absurd,” asserting that he had a good professional working relationship with both women, and respected and considered them as friends. Following his termination, he said, he suffered panic attacks and depression.

After the murder of George Floyd, Wright told a woman of his “concerns and struggles being the only black American professional” at the law firm and “how he was always afraid to upset a white person who might get him fired because of his privileges.” “, the court document states.

Wright also contends in the lawsuit that he was treated differently, after witnessing lawyers make sexist statements with impunity.

Neither woman could be reached for comment.

Voicemails and emails left with Victor L. were not returned. Mazzotti and Rosemary Riedel Bogdan, listed as partners on the company’s website. Attorney Glenn Doherty represents the company.

Harding said in a statement Friday that the company denies all allegations made in Wright’s complaint and agrees with the findings of the EEOC’s independent investigation.

“Any suggestion that the decision to terminate Mr. Wright was race-related is baseless, reckless, and defamatory toward this law firm and its reputation,” Harding wrote. “Mr. Wright has been fired for some reason after an extensive investigation into allegations of harassment against him.

He expressed confidence that the complaint, like the first complaint Wright filed against his company, would be dismissed.

Wright, a New Orleans native, claims that on the same day he was fired, he was preparing for an anti-racism meeting with several company and community members. He wrote in court papers that his new activism displeased some of his more conservative colleagues.

For example, he reported that a new paralegal asked Wright to delete all anti-racist emails, while another employee emailed him stating that “no one else in the frat house welcomed Mr. Wright who created an anti-racist group.”


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