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Discrimination case against Fried Frank thrown out

Judge says plaintiff didn’t show solid proof firm fired her over age and gender

Fried Frank is off the hook. Yesterday, a judge threw out a discrimination case one of the law firm’s former secretaries brought against it.

In August 2008, Roseanne Zito’s position as an evening secretary at Fried Frank was eliminated and the firm terminated her. Zito—who was 57 and had worked for Fried Frank for 27 years—claimed the firm fired her because of her age and gender. Although the firm said it was terminating her as a result of the economic downturn, Zito sued.

In her 2009 suit, Zito said Fried Frank fired her after she took time off for a foot injury because she was an older woman. She also claimed the firm shuffled several male secretaries’ positions in an effort to protect those jobs from elimination.

But U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet yesterday said he found no solid proof to support Zito’s claims. In his 52-page opinion, he referenced two other female Fried Frank secretaries—both older than Zito—who did not lose their jobs. "Under these circumstances, no inference of age or gender discrimination can be drawn," Sweet wrote.

Zito’s lawyers, Daniel Alterman and Patrick DeLince, said they are disappointed in Sweet’s ruling. “We will do everything possible to protect and vindicate Ms. Zito's legal and civil rights," they said in a statement.

Fried Frank isn’t the only firm to recently find itself in the age discrimination hot seat. In March, Kelley Drye settled an age discrimination suit one of its partners brought against the firm over its de-equitizing practices. 


Cathleen Flahardy

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