Why is the Vulcan Society’s case, specifically, so important to you?
This case has special meaning to my family. My grandfather Fitzhue Lee was a firefighter in the NYC Fire Department from 1937 to 1957. He was an early member of the Vulcan Society, an organization of Black firefighters, and he continued to be a proud member throughout his life. Of no surprise, he was one of few Black firefighters during that time. Fast forward to 2004, Levy Ratner met the Vulcan Society’s leadership and our firm began to represent the Society in its claims of discrimination. At that time, the FDNY had only 2.7% Black firefighters despite the great diversity of New York City. My family and I are particularly glad about the great success of this case, and we know our grandfather would have been very proud to see so many more Black firefighters now serving our City as a result of our work.
What is an equal rights achievement that you are proud of at Levy Ratner?
Levy Ratner has the privilege of representing clients who are true equal rights champions. I am particularly proud of having worked with and represented fast food workers from the ages of 18 to 80 who are predominantly people of color and who had the courage to stand up and challenge their employers’ unfair practices. Their strength and unity, along with the support of many partner unions, formed the basis of the Fight for $15 campaigns across the country and spurred successful legislation increasing wage rates in many cities and states
What keeps you inspired about the equal rights work of the firm?
The depth of the Levy Ratner’s experience has provided us with the opportunity to adapt to the changing labor and employment world. I am inspired by the evolution of unions organizing in new areas of work, the formation of worker centers and other organizations that are committed to empowering more workers, and the increased interest in equal rights in the workplace. We know that our clients will use this new decade to continue to expand equal rights, and we will be by their side in those efforts.