Four attorneys with Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP retained to take over a sex discrimination investigation from the director of human resources at Newman University are barred from defending the school against her whistleblower claims.
The attorneys are disqualified because they possess evidence material to the determination of the claims and defenses in the case brought by the Wichita-based university’s former HR director, Mandy Greenfield, the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas said May 24.
Greenfield alleges she was fired in retaliation for complaining about the school administration’s noncompliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.
Greenfield asserts that Newman administrators interfered with the investigation and fired her after the university hired Lewis Brisbois to take over the sex bias inquiry, and to look into her actions.
The case stems from Greenfield’s investigation of a sexual harassment complaint filed by a volleyball coach, Destiny Clark, against the school’s athletic director, Victor Trilli.
One of the central issues in the case is the reason for Greenfield’s firing, the court said.
Newman asserts that the reasons for her firing were discovered during the independent investigation by the law firm, making the lawyers Newman’s only witnesses.
Teresa J. James issued the opinion.
Brown & Curry LLC represents Greenfield.
The case is Greenfield v. Newman Univ. , Inc., 2019 BL 191052, D. Kan., No. 18-cv-2655, 5/24/19.
(The prior version of this story incorrectly stated that the entire Lewis Brisbois firm was disqualified. Only certain attorneys that worked on the investigation were disqualified. )
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