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Ray P. McClain

Ray P. McClain

Director, Employment Discrimination Project

Ray P. McClain is the director of the Employment Discrimination Project for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights under Law where he is responsible for leading the Committee's efforts to combat employment discrimination through litigation, public education and policy advocacy. 

McClain joined the Project in March 2010, where he served as a temporary senior counsel and then senior fellow in the Education Project, where he played a major role in coordinating and supervising work of staff of the Committee and of several law firm fellows, in cooperation with pro bono counsel, in an intensive period of depositions and discovery in the Committee's case challenging the failure of Maryland to dismantle that state's system of de jure segregation in higher education.   He was promoted to director of the Employment Discrimination Project in December 2010. 

McClain served as lead counsel and successfully argued two cases before the United States Supreme Court, both on issues that have been important to the work of the Committee.  In 1978, he won In re Primus, a decision that extended the constitutional protection previously afforded attorneys fighting de jure segregation in the South to all civil rights and public interest organizations who offer to assist victims of discrimination in high impact litigation.  In 1998, he prevailed on behalf of an African-American longshoreman in Wright v. Universal Maritime Services, Inc.  The Wright decision protected the rights of workers represented by labor unions to use the federal courts to pursue claims of discrimination under federal anti-discrimination statutes, against claims that union-controlled labor arbitration was the only method those employees could use to enforce their rights under federal law.

For 30 years prior to joining the Lawyers' Committee, McClain practiced law in South Carolina in the areas of civil rights, employment and labor law, public interest issues and complex federal litigation.  His complex cases included a number of class action matters, including being lead counsel in a national class-action to collect military bonuses, where recovery on behalf of over 7,000 service members and veterans exceeded $30 Million.  During his practice in South Carolina he litigated hundreds of cases, including presenting numerous cases to the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and other circuits and many cases in the appellate courts of the State of South Carolina. He served as a cooperating attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and for the American Civil Liberties Union.

McClain was a member of the Advisory Board appointed by the South Carolina Supreme Court to establish standards for certification of Employment and Labor Law specialists in the 1980s and was certified as a specialist in Employment and Labor Law in South Carolina for twenty years.  He has presented on legal themes and Continuing Legal Education seminars to law school classes and programs sponsored by bar associations, public interest groups and other organizations.

McClain was a Mechem Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School, where he received his law degree. He was awarded a B.A. degree with Honors by Swarthmore College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Practical Progressive - Official Selection 2008