Virginia’s 48th house district will have a special election on August 19th and, as a sizable portion of the district is in Arlington county, Democrat Rip Sullivan would seem to have a natural advantage over Republican candidate David Foster.
But what should appear in my email box this morning but a file on Mr. Sullivan’s involvement in a “wrongful termination/gender discrimination” lawsuit. The document begins with these highlights:
* When an associate (Danielle Cesarano) received a burn that caused physiological damage and impaired her ability to work, Sullivan pressured her to return to work earlier than her doctor recommended and made little accommodation of her reduced hours requirements
* Sullivan failed to rotate her back onto her prior cases and did not make new case assignments from her, arguably keeping her billable hours low enough to justify termination
* Imposed an anomalously high 200 billable hours a month standard on her, apparently as a sort of “catch up” requirement to make up for her medical leave, and threatened termination if she did not achieve this goal
* Whereas Sullivan was patient with able-bodied male associates with low billable hours and made excuses for them, he refused to take Cesarano’s circumstances, or her efforts to keep total hours up, into account
* Sullivan instructed Cesarano to downwardly revise her actual billable hours, which prompted another partner to say Sullivan was playing games and that the head of the Litigation Department would “shit a brick if he knew that Rip had told you to do those things”
* He also postponed her performance evaluation, with the firm initially withholding the evaluation even after it was finally conducted, giving her no opportunity to respond to or make changes based upon its findings
* When Cesarano confided to Sullivan that she felt she was being discriminated against on the basis of her disability, he “responded that he did not like her reference to discrimination” rather than addressing her concerns
* Sullivan told Cesarano that “if you’re still injured, you’re of no use to anyone”
* He also told her she was “difficult to staff” because her injury made her “unreliable” and that the firm might not be able to keep “carrying” her
* He was dismissive of a capital murder case she handled pro bono, dismissing it as “a little pro bono matter”
* Ultimately, he was the person who recommended her termination
It took eight years before the case was finally settled “on undisclosed terms.”
Lawsuits like this are of the sort that make employers nervous and drive conservatives to distraction. However, for a political candidate, such lawsuits can be illuminating. And when the candidate is a Democrat who is concerned about income inequality, women’s health (which is really abortion), and workplace discrimination (at least as it applies to gays and lesbians), such lawsuits show us how the candidate operates in the real world.
I’m certain his would-be constituents might like to know more about this Rip Sullivan. Here is an opportunity for them to do so: