Simmons & Simmons has been hit with an unprecedented racial discrimination claim by senior equity partner Robert Schon.
Tax partner Schon is one of Simmons’ longest-serving lawyers, having joined the top 20 City firm in 1984, making partner in 1988.
His solicitor, Colin Harvey of Weightmans, confirmed that he is acting for Schon but declined to comment further.
The Employment Tribunal confirmed that it had received the claim, filed on Monday 19 July. A spokesperson for Simmons confirmed that the firm had received the claim.
The spokesperson added: “We’ll be filing a defence at the appropriate time. Given that the matter is now before the tribunal, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.”
Racial discrimination claims have potentially uncapped damages.
Sue Ashtiany, an employment partner at Nabarro Nathanson, declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but said: “In principle, you can claim damages for whatever amount you have lost as a result of the discrimination.
“In addition, you can recover for injury to feelings which is non-pecuniary loss.”
She added: “This is the first time I’ve heard of a claim by an equity partner involving racial discrimination.”
Schon’s suit will hit at a time when the firm is struggling with de-equitisations and falling profits. Simmons senior partner Janet Gaymer claimed that the de-equitisations were “a stepping-up” of the sort of spring cleaning the firm does on a regular basis.
However, in the last financial year, Simmons’ profits per equity partner (PPP) fell by 8.3 per cent to £275,000, while turnover stayed flat at £176m. Despite the drop, the firm has vowed to increase PPP to £400,000 by the end of the next financial year.