Grand Rapids Bar Association, member, past president (1992-94)
State Bar of Michigan
Federal Bar Association, Western District of Michigan
Michigan Super Lawyers
Best Lawyers in America
2007 Distinguished Service Award from the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan
Appointed by Michigan Supreme Court to serve on Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission (1978-85)
Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education (1978-84)
Certified facilitative mediator for the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan (1995-present)
Michigan State Bar Foundation, trustee
Cases of note
COMMUNITIES FOR EQUITY, ET AL. v. MHSAA, US District Court, Western Division of Michigan. Rhett served as local counsel to Plaintiffs in this public interest litigation over the treatment of girls in high school sports in Michigan. Although a number of improvements in equity were made to girls’ sports opportunities and resources as a result of the case, it is perhaps most famous for resulting in changes to seasons in high school basketball and volleyball, among others. After a 2001 bench trial following settlement of several other claims, Judge Richard Alan Enslen found that the MHSAA had been unlawfully discriminating against girls in its placement of them in less advantageous seasons than boys. The MHSAA lost its appeals, including to the U.S. Supreme Court.
LENA BRADFORD v. CHALLENGE MANUFACTURING, US District Court, Western District of Michigan. Lena Bradford was fired after taking a two-week FMLA leave to help take care of her adult daughter, who was pregnant with twins and placed on bed rest. After a 2010 jury trial, Rhett won Ms. Bradford’s FMLA claim against her employer and the court awarded her back pay and lost benefits with interest, plus her attorney fees.
GRAND RAPIDS FIRE DEPARTMENT CLASS ACTION, US District Court, Western District of Michigan. In 1972, Rhett filed a class action suit on behalf of African-American fire department applicants, alleging that the city’s methods of recruiting, testing, and selecting applicants for firefighter positions was racially discriminatory. On January 19, 1974, the Court entered a consent decree requiring implementation of an equal opportunity program and use of a better entrance exam. In 10 years, the GRFD was able to increase its minority membership to more closely reflect the community it served.