Jury decides against gay attorney

Jury decides against gay attorney

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Jeffrey S. Downs, an openly gay attorney who alleges anti-LGBT workplace bias, has vowed to appeal an unfavorable jury verdict.

On May 12, a Philadelphia jury returned a verdict in favor of the Center City law firm Anapol Schwartz, which Downs claims defamed him and interfered with his livelihood. 

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about four hours before deciding that Anapol wasn’t liable for any wrongdoing.

During a contentious two-week trial, Downs testified that anti-LGBT bias cost him a job at Anapol and a lucrative job offer at another law firm, Raynes McCarty.

Downs said his Anapol colleagues often made offensive anti-LGBT comments, rendering working conditions at the firm extremely stressful. In response, he lodged an internal antibias complaint.

But rather than remedying the problem, Anapol officials conveyed defamatory information about Downs to Raynes officials, prompting Raynes officials to withdraw a job offer, Downs contended.

Downs said the alleged mistreatment resulted in a lengthy period of unemployment and necessitated a refinancing of his home to make ends meet.

But defense attorney Gaetan J. Alfani told jurors that Downs was difficult to get along with and made unreasonable demands at Anapol, justifying Raynes’ withdrawal of a job offer.

Alfani said Anapol officials acted responsibly when informing Raynes officials that Downs intended to sue Anapol for discrimination.

Closing arguments were delivered May 11, and the jury began deliberations the following day.

In a statement to PGN, Downs appeared undaunted by the verdict.

“The search for the truth is a slow burn and an appeal will be forthcoming,” he said. “Change is only made when you do not give up in the face of defeat. Tomorrow is a new day and the start of a new fight.”

Downs said he intends to appeal in state Superior Court.

In a prior interview, Downs said his ordeal with the law firms renewed his commitment to working for LGBT rights on the state and federal levels.

He’s currently employed at a law firm in Delaware County, which he said is very supportive.

In August, another jury trial is scheduled to begin on the discrimination and retaliation components of Downs’ case, with U.S. District Judge Luis F. Restrepo presiding. 


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