The Family Behind the ‘Quiet Quitting’ Lawsuit is No Stranger to Controversy

The law firm which recently filed a lawsuit against an employee for 'quiet quitting' was countersued for racial discrimination, the latest in a long history of litigation against the firm's leaders.

Silhouettes of people walking down the street, their shadows shown behind them
Shadow of a doubt? (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A New York attorney who was sued for ‘quiet quitting’ the law firm Napoli Shkolnik claims the lawsuit was retaliation for raising claims of discrimination, which she detailed in a lawsuit filed yesterday (Feb. 27) against the firm. It’s only the latest suit filed against firms associated with the Napoli family, which has a long and controversial history in New York’s legal world.

Heather Palmore, a lawyer hired by Napoli Shkolnik in October 2021, was sued by the company on Feb. 23 for taking advantage of remote work to ‘quiet quit,’ a term referring to employees who put in the bare minimum at their jobs.

However, Palmore’s suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, alleges the law firm’s claims are false and the suit was only filed because of Palmore’s upcoming lawsuit. “In what can only be described as an act of obvious desperation, Defendants cobbled together lies and sued Ms. Palmore only after she had raised claims of discrimination,” reads the complaint, which is seeking unspecified damages.

Palmore, who is Black, alleges that racially discriminatory practices included one instance in December 2021 when a stuffed panda bear was hung from a noose in direct view of her office. After speaking up against the firm’s lack of commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Palmore claims she was harassed by senior leadership and yelled at by Paul Napoli, a partner at Napoli Shkolnik.

After sending an email in September 2022 regarding discriminatory conduct at the firm, Napoli allegedly told Palmore that Napoli Shkolnik is a “family firm” which he can run how he wants, according to court filings.

A slew of lawsuits against the firm’s leaders

This is not the first time the Napoli family has been involved in litigation against their practices. Napoli’s father Joseph, who is also a partner at Napoli Shkolnik, was charged in 1990 for his participation in a personal-injury scheme where lawyers allegedly bribed witnesses and faked evidence. He was convicted of racketeering in 1991 and sentenced to nearly four years in jail in addition to being disbarred, although he was later reinstated to the New York bar in 2012, as reported by Bloomberg Law.

His son has also faced similar issues in court. Paul Napoli previously represented thousands of users of fen-phen, a diet drug, who suffered from heart damage due to the medication. In 2002, a large number of these clients had their cases rejected after a judge said Napoli submitted medically questionable heart scans.

He additionally worked at law firms representing the majority of 10,000 Ground Zero workers who sued New York City for health issues stemming from 9/11. In 2010, a federal judge ruled that attorneys representing the workers, including Napoli, couldn’t charge clients $6.1 million in legal expenses, noting it was unclear how well-informed the clients were of these fees over the years.

Palmore’s suit also referenced former litigation against Napoli, including a 2017 lawsuit filed by a female attorney who claimed she was harassed by Napoli’s wife Marie, who is also a partner at Napoli Shkolnik, and a 2012 case against Napoli and his former law firm for allegedly terminating an employee after he refused to attest to the genuineness of a forged signature on a settlement document.

Lucas Markowitz, an attorney representing Napoli Shkolnik, declined to discuss the family’s legal history but called Palmore’s claims a “shakedown” in an emailed statement. Palmore knew that the panda bear hanging outside her office was “Anda the Panda,” the mascot of one of the firm’s clients, and she didn’t complain about the event until it became clear that she would soon be terminated, he said. “It is precisely these types of outlandish falsehoods that undermine real claims of discrimination and hurt the true victims of unlawful employer conduct.” The Family Behind the ‘Quiet Quitting’ Lawsuit is No Stranger to Controversy