Jason M. Knott

Email | 202.778.1813

Jason Knott, a partner in Zuckerman Spaeder’s Washington office, represents individuals and companies in civil litigation, white-collar criminal matters, and government investigations. Some of his favorite cases have been “Suits by Suits.”

Full bio

  • A Pregnancy Discrimination Pause - Part 2

    | Jason M. Knott

    On Monday, we talked about how plaintiffs can prove pregnancy discrimination by direct evidence – the proverbial “smoking gun.”  Now, it’s time to tackle how a plaintiff can prove pregnancy discrimination under the McDonnell-Douglas test, through making a prima facie case of discrimination and then rebutting the employer’s assertion that it acted for legitimate, nonpretextual reasons.  Once again, the star of our hypothetical scenario is Marissa Mayer, the newsworthy new Yahoo! CEO.

  • A Pregnancy Discrimination Pause

    | Jason M. Knott

    Marissa Mayer is big news these days.  She’s the new Yahoo! CEO, at only 37 years old.  She’s also expecting her first child, and made waves when she told Fortune Magazine that her maternity leave would be a “few weeks long” and she’d “work through it.” 

    All of the hullaballoo over Mayer’s career and personal life made the Suits by Suits team curious.  What if Mayer suffered repercussions at Yahoo! due to her pregnancy or upcoming childbirth?  How would she be able to prove that Yahoo! discriminated against her?

  • I Was Fired and Badmouthed For Reporting Kickbacks, Says Ex-JP Morgan Officer

    | Jason M. Knott

    Tariq Hassan, the former Chief Procurement Officer for JP Morgan Chase (JPMC), is taking the bank to court.  In a suit filed June 15, he claims that JPMC fired him for investigating a “kickback scheme” involving the bank’s vendor management office and IT department.  Then, Hassan says, JPMC’s Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Dimon, and others at JPMC badmouthed him to Citigroup Global Markets when that company was considering hiring him, and Citigroup retaliated further against him for his whistleblowing by not hiring him.

  • The Inbox: Healthcare-News-Free Edition

    | Jason M. Knott and William A. Schreiner, Jr.

    A rare news recap that has nothing to do with health care reform:

    • Live Nation Entertainment has finally found harmony with its former chairman Michael Cohl, settling a dispute over a claim that Cohl owed it money under his severance agreement.  When Cohl left Live Nation in 2008, he agreed to pay $9.85 million over two years to buy parts of the business and get out from under parts of a broad noncompete provision.  Live Nation sued him in 2010, saying he still owed $5.4 million.  Marketwatch.
    • An employee who insisted on getting paid under a severance agreement because he was competing with his former employer (apparently the severance agreement did provide for such payments) was socked with $40,000 in fees for his efforts after the trial court granted summary judgment for the employer, which argued that he was not competing with it.  Odd.  JD Supra.
    • Daniel Foreman, an investment fund executive, filed suit against Cardinal Growth Corp., claiming that it misrepresented the value of funds when it asked him to help it find companies to invest in.  He seeks $82,000 in unpaid fees, as well as other payments.  AltAssets.
    • The former chief executive of Extended Stay hotels was socked with a $100 million judgment in that company’s bankruptcy, based on a series of personal guarantees.  But he’s not taking the judgment lying down.  He’s sued Extended Stay’s bankruptcy lawyers, alleging that their malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty caused the judgment against him.  Thomson Reuters.
  • Lighting the Dollar Tree

    | Jason M. Knott

    Today’s decision of interest, U.S. Electrical Services, Inc. v. Schmidt (D. Mass. June 19, 2012), involves everyone’s favorite strip-mall stop: the Dollar Tree. James Schmidt and Peter Colon wanted to sell lighting and fixtures to the Dollar Tree (presumably for more than $1.00). Their former employer, U.S. Electrical Services (USESI), wanted to stop them, because it wanted to bid on the same Dollar Tree lighting account and it didn’t want Schmidt and Colon using its confidential pricing information to make their bid. 

    At the time USESI sued, the account was up for bid in only a few days. So USESI didn’t just file a complaint and seek damages. Instead, it asked for a preliminary injunction barring Schmidt, Colon, and their new employer, Munro, from competing for the business.

  • General Release = Major Issue

    | Jason M. Knott

    For a high-level executive leaving a company under less-than-ideal conditions, it’s as common as handing in keys to security and shutting down the computer for the last time.  In exchange for a severance payment, the executive is asked to sign the typical general release: “I hereby release my employer from any claims, liabilities, demands, or causes of action . . .”

    Unsurprisingly, once an employee signs a general release, if he later sues, he is likely to face a quick motion to dismiss.  

  • The Inbox - June 6, 2012

    | Jason M. Knott

    The latest developments in suits by suits:

    • When Brian Wittenstein left his job as talent coordinator at Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling for TNA’s competitor, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), he apparently took a lot of TNA confidential information with him.  Now TNA is brawling with WWE and Wittenstein in court.   TNA’s lawsuit acknowledges that WWE told TNA that Wittenstein had given it the confidential information and fired him.  But TNA alleges that WWE conspired with Wittenstein to get the documents, delayed for three weeks before it told TNA about the disclosures, and is now using the secret details of Nature Boy Ric Flair’s contract to solicit him to join WWE.
  • Ur(ologist) Out of Court

    | Jason M. Knott

    A key question looming over any lawsuit is, "Will the case go to trial?" Or, as lawyers usually put the issue, "Will the case survive summary judgment?" (For any laypeople reading this, summary judgment is a procedure for disposing of cases prior to trial if there are no meaningful disputes about the important facts—as lawyers put it, no “genuine issues of material fact.”)  Last week, a New York appellate court affirmed a grant of summary judgment against a urologist’s discrimination claim, holding that his employer successfully presented evidence of legitimate reasons for its adverse actions against him.  Melman v. Montefiore Med. Ctr., 2012 N.Y. Slip. Op. 04111 (May 29, 2012).  The Melman decision shows how judges can agree on how to decide whether to grant summary judgment on such claims, yet still disagree on whether summary judgment ought to be granted.

  • The Inbox - May 16, 2012

    | Jason M. Knott

    Here's a roundup of this week's news involving suits by suits:

    • An insurance company can’t subpoena its former employees’ private e-mail and phone records from Yahoo and Verizon, says a U.S. magistrate judge. Judge Geraldine Brown ruled that the subpoenas violated the Stored Communications Act, which she said creates a zone of privacy to protect against disclosure to unauthorized parties. If the employees’ Yahoo inboxes are anything like mine, the subpoenas would have just turned up a bunch of spam anyway.  Courthouse News Service.
  • Welcome!

    | Marcus, Ellen and Jason M. Knott and Andrew P. Torrez and William A. Schreiner, Jr.

    Today we are launching Suits by Suits, a legal blog about disputes between companies and their executives. The four of us are colleagues and lawyers who sometimes wear suits and who sometimes represent clients who sometimes wear suits. We also share an interest in how conflicts between companies and high-ranking employees can play out in the legal arena.

    So, for example, when we see a headline about Desperate Housewives star Nicollette Sheridan’s lawsuit against ABC for wrongful termination – which, by the way, recently ended in a mistrial but has been set for a new trial to begin in September – we read the story. Then we dig deeper because, to us, this case is not just about a Hollywood celebrity, it is a suit by suit.

    We want to know whether the jury was persuaded by Ms. Sheridan’s theory that her character was killed off and she was written off the show because she complained about being assaulted on the set by the show’s creator Marc Cherry.

    We want to know whether the judge accepted Ms. Sheridan’s legal theory that being fired for complaining about an assault violates California public policy that employees have a right to a workplace free of violence and threats of violence.

    We want to know whether ABC was able to prove that its plans to kill off Ms. Sheridan’s character were hatched long before Ms. Sheridan complained about Mr. Cherry.

    We want to know whether there are any really devastating e-mails – to either side – and whether the jury is going to get to see them, or the judge will find them inadmissible.

    We want to know whether any D&O insurance is available to pay Mr. Cherry’s legal fees in the case. Okay, maybe Bill is the only one who wants to know that.

    Are we the only ones?

    Ellen, Jason, Andrew and Bill

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Contributing Editors

Jason M. Knott
Email | 202.778.1813


Andrew N. Goldfarb
Email | 202.778.1822