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BREAKING: Reed Fought Workers for Corporations as Attorney (UPDATE 1)

By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, The Atlanta Progressive News (November 12, 2009)

(APN) ATLANTA -- Former State Sen. Kasim Reed may have received the endorsement of Atlanta's biggest labor union, but what these labor leaders may not know is that as an attorney, the Mayoral candidate has defended big corporations against cases being pursued by apparently victimized workers, including compensation disputes, sex discrimination, race discrimination, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Atlanta Progressive News used the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) database to identify federal cases where Kasim Reed served as an attorney for corporate defendants; he is listed as Mohammed Kasim Reed [his full name], an attorney at Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker. After working for Paul Hastings, Reed went to work for Holland & Knight.

According to a 2006 article from the Black Commentator, the job description for Mr. Reed published on Holland & Knight's website read: "M. Kasim Reed represents employers in employment law matters, including sex, age and disability discrimination, civil rights litigation, and contract-related disputesÂ… He has extensive experience representing employers before various state and federal courts, as well as before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other federal and state administrative agencies."

Incidentally, since that time all references for Reed have been apparently removed from Holland & Knight's website, which is unusual, especially when a firm should be proud to have a former employee running for Mayor of Atlanta.

One of the most controversial clients that Reed represented was the national restaurant chain Cracker Barrel, which historically would neither serve Black customers nor employ homosexuals.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed an amicus brief on behalf of two workers, Serena McDermott and Jennifer Gentry, who represented a class of workers at Cracker Barrel.

This essentially means Reed went up against the NAACP to protect Cracker Barrel.

The suit was "filed under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and was served on Cracker Barrel on May 3, 1999. The MCDERMOTT case is styled a collective action, alleges certain violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and seeks recovery of unpaid and overtime wages," according to an 8-K filing with the Securities Exchange Commission by Cracker Barrel obtained by APN.

"On March 17, 2000, the Court granted the plaintiffs' motion in the MCDERMOTT unpaid wage case to send notice to a provisional class of plaintiffs. The Court defined the provisional class as all persons employed as servers and all second-shift hourly employees at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurants since January 4, 1996," according to the filing.

"McDermott and Gentry allege that certain tipped hourly employees were required to wait 'off the clock,' without being paid the minimum wage or overtime compensation," according to Allbusiness.com.

In a second case, Reed defended construction company Parsons Brinckerhoff against a sex discrimination case brought by Patricia Kay Wilson of Roswell, Georgia.

In a third case, Reed defended real estate investment firm Hayman Company against a race discrimination case brought by Deloris Swann.

Previously, APN reported that during the Spring 2009 quarter, Reed received more campaign contributions from real estate interests, developers, and construction companies than any other candidate for Mayor including Lisa Borders, and more than twice as much as Norwood.

Perhaps Reed's record of defending real estate, developer, and construction interests in court is part of what made him such an attractive candidate to those interests. It should be noted that Reed's corporate donations, including those in the above sectors, came from all over the US, including cities like New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

In a fourth case, Reed defended ATC Health Care against a claim brought by Marjorie Smith, alleging ATC's violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In an additional case, Reed defended music industry giant BMG against a copyright infringement claim brought by Willie James Baker.

This is probably just a small sample of similar cases where Reed defended corporate interests against apparently victimized workers, as this is merely his federal cases while working at Paul Hastings, and does not include any Holland & Knight cases.

DEVELOPING...

EDITOR'S NOTE: A reader emailed concerned about our reference to Reed as "Mohammed Kasim Reed" in a paragraph about his listing in PACER. The reference was made in case anyone wants to replicate our research on PACER; they will not find any references to "Kasim Reed" on PACER. The reference was not in any way intended to be racially charged, but simply a reference of fact.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for Atlanta Progressive News and is reachable at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

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Our syndicaton policy was updated June 2007. For more information on how to syndicate Atlanta Progressive News content, please visit: http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/extras/syndicate.html