Danielle Cesarano, a former
associate of the Washington, D.C. law firm Reed Smith, had filed suit
against the firm in 2003, claiming the it had failed to make allowances
for a disability she received after burning and injuring her dominant
hand in an accident during the firm’s 2001 trial training program. 
The suit contended that the firm did not
accommodate her condition and retaliated against her for complaining. 
In the original suit in 2007, Judge Michael Rankin sided with
the firm and granted summary judgment and dismissed the suit citing the
statute of limitations.

The D.C. Court of Appeals reversed
the dismissal of the suit and remanded the case for trial in Superior
Court.  Appeals Judges Inez Smith Reid, John Fisher and
Senior Judge Warren King heard oral arguments in February 2009. It was
the Appeals Court opinion that the dismissal be reversed, but it claimed
no position on the merits of Cesarano’s case.

who is seeking back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, alleged
that it was difficult for her to get assignments and meet expectations
for billable hours. She was told to bill 200 hours a month by her
supervisor, partner Richard Sullivan, if she wanted to stay at the firm.
In an affidavit, the managing partner of the firm, Douglas Spaulding,
stated that Cesarano’s annual chargeable hours were very low and that
she had received mixed performance reviews. Cesarano received notice in
October 2002 that she would be fired in the next month.

According to Cesarano who now
works at the State Department, Reed Smith refused to provide reasonable
accommodations for her physiological condition (including computer
software) that she requested and, refused to accommodate her medically
documented need for a reduced work schedule.

the Appeals Court reversal, Cesarano’s attorney said he was “delighted”
with the court’s ruling and looking forward to trial in Superior Court.