Deans, Foulston and Rosenblatt are set for a tense reunion.
Nicola Foulston, the sacked Chief Executive of the RBG law group, is being sued by a black partner who has accused her of racism.
Noel Deans was the head of employment at Rosenblatt, one of the firms under the RBG umbrella, until he left in 2020.
Deans has also sued the firm and its founder and senior partner, Ian Rosenblatt, as well as another Rosenblatt partner, Anthony Field.
The former partner has alleged unfair dismissal, race discrimination, victimisation, harassment, and a failure to provide him with a safe place of work. He also claims he is owed money.
Foulston was unceremoniously ousted last week after the RBG board said it had lost confidence in her leadership and had become aware of 'cultural issues'.
RBG declined to confirm what those cultural issues were, but some - not necessarily the same ones - came to light in the judgment for a preliminary hearing concerning Deans' claim.
The judgment revealed that Foulston admitted in her defence that she used the phrase “nigger in the woodpile” in front of Deans during a dinner.
Ian Rosenblatt told RollOnFriday that he was in attendance and had publicly condemned her for her language.
“Foulston used the n-word, there were twenty-odd people in the room", he said. "I immediately called it out in front of everybody and said, ‘You cannot say that, that is absolutely unacceptable’."
Despite protesting Foulston's behaviour, Ian Rosenblatt and Deans later fell out.
The partner agreed in his defence that he called Deans “a fucking anti-Semite”, and agreed that he raised a grievance against Deans over the suggestion in Deans’ resignation letter that he was racist, because the accusation “was untrue”.
Ian Rosenblatt told RollOnFriday the fiery exchange took place when "I gave him some work from a client of mine who’s Jewish, and I agreed a fee with that client which was good for me, and I told Deans what the fee was, and he said, 'That's not enough. You people all stick together'”.
“So I said, ‘You're a fucking anti-Semite’, which I did say and I admit saying it...to which he said, ‘I can't be an anti-Semite, I go to Arsenal at the weekends’. So I then raised a grievance internally about the fact that he was an anti-Semite which never got anywhere as he then walked out”.
Jon Divers, COO of Rosenblatt, stuck up for his senior partner in an all-staff email on Thursday evening.
“I want to make it clear to the entire firm, and for anyone not aware of the details of the case, that Ian Rosenblatt was doing what I hope we would all do by calling out racist language and - on a separate occasion nearly two years later - subsequent antisemitic language”, said Divers.
“Ian called out unacceptable behaviour on two distinct occasions, taking the appropriate action by immediately filing a grievance when he himself was the target of antisemitic comments”, he said in the email, which was leaked to ROF.
“The idea that Ian is personally under scrutiny – in a public forum no less – for doing the right thing is abhorrent. I hope that everyone one of us would do the same in a similar situation. It is unfortunate that this seems to have been conflated with the recent exit of our former CEO and I want to make sure that everyone in this firm is clear on the timeline and the truth.”
Deans, who was formerly a barrister and now practices as a solicitor, worked at Rosenblatt for three years and was previously a partner and the head of employment at K&L Gates’ London office. He is now a partner and head of employment at Blaser Mills Law. Deans did not respond to requests for comment.
The preliminary hearing dealt with an application by Foulston, Ian Rosenblatt and the other respondents to strike out Deans’ claim on the basis he had not pursued it for 28 months until late 2022.
Deans told the court he didn't actively pursue the matter because of the pandemic. "I considered that I had to be patient, as there were thousands in a similar position", he said, adding that "I am not aware of any obligation on a Claimant to proactively chase Employment Tribunals, let alone in the exceptional and unprecedented circumstances mentioned above, regardless of their profession”.
The final hearing is due in October. The respondents, who deny that Deans was constructively dismissed or that he was subject to discrimination, claim he was dismissed "for a reason that related to his capability".
Foulston could not be reached for comment, while RBG and did not respond to requests for comment.