Law360 (July 1, 2020, 8:52 PM EDT) -- Shearman & Sterling LLP urged a judge Wednesday to throw out an age bias case brought by a former IT manager who said the firm fired him amid COVID-19 belt-tightening, arguing the worker had no business suing in Manhattan federal court.
Shearman's motion to dismiss said that ex-worker Mark Kanyuk, who is a New Jersey resident, "has made no effort whatsoever" to check that his age discrimination case meets a U.S. district court requirement that a plaintiff and a defendant be from different states.
The firm said it also counts as a New Jersey resident because a leader of its global litigation practice group, Richard Schwed, has been a resident of New Jersey since 1999 and a partner since 2004. Kanyuk has claimed the firm is a resident of New York, but law firms can be residents of multiple states because a firm is considered a resident of all of the states where its partners live.
Kanyuk said in his complaint that he was humiliated when Shearman thanked him for 25 years of stellar work by falsely accusing him of unethical conduct and throwing him out while the pandemic spread. The firm wanted to let him go because, at 62 years old, he was the second-oldest employee in the global technology solutions department and older than the "vast majority" of his colleagues, he said.
Younger employees weren't treated so harshly, receiving options to leave voluntarily or reduce work hours, Kanyuk said. He never complained about his mistreatment, he said, noting that his co-workers often joked about his age and his supervisor referred to him as "old man."
In a statement, Shearman rebutted Kanyuk's contention that his termination was pretextual. "We expect to prevail on this motion and have the case dismissed promptly for plaintiff's failure to satisfy the requirements for federal jurisdiction," it said.
"In any event, Mr. Kanyuk was terminated for cause, on the basis of substantial evidence of inappropriate conduct in the performance of his job. The plaintiff's allegations are completely without merit and the firm would contest them vigorously if the case were ever to proceed in any forum."
Counsel for Kanyuk didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kanyuk is represented by D. Maimon Kirschenbaum and Leah Seliger of Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP.
Shearman is represented by Evandro Gigante and Andrew Sherwood of Proskauer Rose LLP.
The case is Kanyuk v. Shearman & Sterling LLP, case number 1:20-cv-03567, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
--Editing by Jack Karp.
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