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In May of 2023, two prominent California Attorneys, Jeffrey Ranen and John Barber, announced their defection from Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard, and Smith, LLP along with over 100 Lewis Brisbois employment attorneys to start a new firm called BarberRanen, a law firm specializing in the representation of employers in labor and employment related matters.

            After Mr. Ranen and Mr. Barber left Lewis Brisbois, an anonymous complaint prompted an investigation into their behavior while working as lawyers at the firm.  That investigation revealed shocking emails (sent between the two men and others using their Lewis Brisbois email addresses) in which they used antisemitic, sexist, homophobic, and racist language.

            In emails dating back to 2012, Mr.Ranen and Mr. Barber regularly referred to women as C****, to people of color as “N******, and gay men as F****** and Fudgepackers.  They referred to a female Superior Court judge Sugar T***, regularly commented on the size of their female colleagues’ breasts, and referred to protestors after George Floyd was murdered as “looters” and “savages”.  They said via email that they “will not hire Jews” and “[T]his is the reason why people don’t like Jews”.  Mr. Ranen admitted to specifically emailing and serving documents on Jewish lawyers on the Sabbath stating “I almost ONLY write to him on Saturday mornings” to which Mr. Barber responded “Jew hater.”  In response to bringing bagels, cream cheese, and lox into the office, Mr. Barber called Mr. Ranen a “Jew C***”. 

            As an attorney who has litigated cases against these two men and worked alongside Mr. Ranen in the defense of an employer, I am horrified and shocked to learn that this racist, sexist, antisemitic, homophobic, and just plain horrible behavior went unchecked for over a decade.

            What should employers learn from this?  Don’t protect rainmakers.  Don’t put them on a pedestal and look the other way.  Make sure your employees are given clear instructions on how to make complaints (whether through an anonymous hotline and/or an approachable Human Resources Department).  It is hard for me to believe that Lewis Brisbois was not aware of Mr. Ranen and Mr. Barber’s racist, homophobic, antisemitic, and sexist rhetoric and if they didn’t, they should have been aware because they were using their firm email addresses to spew hatred. 

            If you’re an employee who is being subjected to hateful rhetoric in the workplace and you feel you cannot tell anyone because the harasser is a rainmaker, the owner, or some other important person within the business, call Lyon Legal, P.C. and we can guide you through the process.  Because NO ONE is untouchable.


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