(Reuters) - A 62-year-old former IT manager sued Shearman & Sterling on Thursday, accusing the law firm of firing him because of his age to reduce costs during the coronavirus pandemic.
Plaintiff Mark Kanyuk in a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court said Shearman falsely accused him of taking kickbacks from vendors when he was fired on April 15, but has failed to provide any details of his alleged misconduct.
Given Kanyuk’s “outstanding reputation within the firm, S&S’s failure to discuss these inflammatory allegations or to give him an opportunity to defend himself indicate that they either made up the existence of the allegations or that they knew the allegations were likely false,” Kanyuk’s lawyers at Joseph & Kirschenbaum wrote in the complaint.
New York-based Shearman, which has more than 850 lawyers in 24 offices, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The firm said last month that in response to the pandemic it had offered all of its employees the chance to take voluntary leave for up to six months at 30% of their usual pay, or 40% of pay if they use the time to perform pro bono work.
But unlike many other large law firms, Shearman has not said that it plans to engage in layoffs or cut employees’ pay.
Kanyuk in the complaint said Shearman hired him in 1995, and he worked his way up to become its manager of facilities. In that role, he oversaw IT systems at all Shearman offices, managed off-site data servers and spearheaded the creation of a security-card access system, according to the complaint.
But when he was fired, he was granted a “meager” two weeks of severance pay, he said.
Kanyuk accused Shearman of age discrimination in violation of New York state and city laws. He is seeking back pay, front pay, and punitive and liquidated damages.
The case is Kanyuk v. Shearman & Sterling, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:20-cv-03567.
For Kanyuk: D. Maimon Kirschenbaum of Joseph & Kirschenbaum
For Shearman: Not available