King's counsel lawyer resigns after sending 'disturbing,' 'misogynistic' email

Lawyer refers to women as 'people with a vagina', raises 'issue of trans people' in invite to event

King's counsel lawyer resigns after sending 'disturbing,' 'misogynistic' email

Lawyer Rob Rakochey was awarded a King's counsel (KC) title in March in recognition of his contributions to the legal community.

But just last week, Rakochey – who has been practising law in Alberta for 34 years – resigned from his partnership at Field Law after he sent out an email that his own law firm describes as “disrespectful and misogynistic,” according to a CBC report.

On May 7, Rakochey sent a 2,000-word email to dozens of colleagues and lawyers in Calgary, inviting them to his annual Rob Rakochey Invitational golf tournament in Kimberley, B.C.

In the email, the lawyer mentioned that guests can pick the three-night/four-round package, which would be referred to as the “Finishers” package. 

“For those who will choose [this option], you will almost certainly need pharmaceutical assistance to have the stamina for 3 nights of action – yellow or blue pills, take your pick.” 

Offensive email from lawyer

Rakochey also made a specific mention of transgendered people in the email, posted CBC’s article.

“Back to the issue of trans people. People born one way but later decide they want to be another,” he said before referring to one colleague who “started to transition to left-handed”.

“No one ridiculed him for his decision to change or his transition, and he did it all the natural way – no surgery, no hormones, etc.”

Previously in Canada, a transgendered employee got $18,000 following a workplace discrimination case.

Perhaps, according to Rakochey's invitation, this will be the year a woman wins his golf tournament. 

"I long for the day that we can award the trophy to a person with a vagina," the senior lawyer said, according to the CBC.

He also joked with his colleagues about how they could genuflect as they walked by.

"If you do plan on nodding repeatedly, as some do, please close your mouth lest people get the wrong impression," wrote Rakochey. "Unless you are a person with a vagina, in which case I am in Room 408."

In ending his email, Rakochey said: “We love having our friends join us for a weekend away – no kids, no work, tons of sex, no headaches… For the single guys, probably leave the Ho’s behind this trip – there is enough talent in town.”

‘Inappropriate’, ‘disrespectful’ email

The “inappropriate email” was “not sanctioned and relates to a social event that has nothing to do with Field Law,” said Field Law managing partner Jeremiah Kowalchuk in the same CBC report.

"The email was deeply disturbing, and its contents do not reflect the values and beliefs of our organization. Field Law prides itself on being a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for all."

Kowalchuk said the firm investigated as soon as it became aware of the email.

"[I] can now confirm the individual in question has resigned. Our teams are working to ensure a smooth transition for our clients."

A previous report detailed the experiences of LGBT workers in the trades industries in Canada.

Meanwhile, Kellinde Wrightson, a lawyer and professor at the University of Calgary, called the email divisive … disrespectful and misogynistic,” according to the same report.

"It is astonishing that not just a member of our law society would think this was OK to put in writing but someone who's just been appointed to King's counsel," said Wrightson, who is also chair of the law faculty's equality, diversity and inclusion committee.

"How do you further the well-being of our community when you do stuff like this, which openly and deliberately damages the well-being of our community as a whole?"

Earlier this year, Canada’s Federal Senate was ordered to reinstate a human resources director fired without cause in 2015, who claimed he was let go as retaliation for speaking up about racial discrimination.

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