U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. (Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL)

A former Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton lawyer, and reality TV alum, lost his race discrimination case against the firm this week.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., dismissed the suit, brought by former Cleary Gottlieb project attorney Lyle Silva. Silva, who is African-American, claimed the firm engaged in racial discrimination when it furloughed and eventually fired him. Jackson ruled the firm offered a legitimate reason for firing Silva, and that he could not prove it was based on race.

“While plaintiff attributes his termination to his race, defendant maintains that plaintiff was terminated because the matter to which he was assigned had concluded, and the firm did not have other suitable work for him to do,” Jackson wrote in the opinion Thursday. “Because plaintiff has not identified any evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that defendant’s explanation is a pretext for discrimination, the Court will grant defendant’s motion.”

Some staunch reality TV fans might recognize Silva. He appeared on a TV show called “The Ultimate Merger,” produced by now President Donald Trump in 2010. Silva competed with other bachelors in a quest to win the heart of Omarosa Manigault, the winner of Trump’s show “The Apprentice,” who now works in the White House. The show was discontinued after the first season.

Silva, a lawyer from Bowie, Maryland, worked in the discovery and litigation technology department at Cleary Gottlieb’s Washington office in 2011 as an at-will project attorney. Silva was not given a new assignment when his project ended in the summer of 2012, and was instead furloughed along with another attorney, a Hispanic woman. Silva was terminated a month later. Other project attorneys who were reassigned were white.

Those responsible for the decision to terminate Silva said it was because the firm “no longer ha[d] a project for [him] to work on.” Managers also testified that Silva made repeated errors in his work, used social media repeatedly during work hours and exhibited other unprofessional behavior.

Silva argued he was significantly more qualified than other employees and that the firm repeatedly changed its stated reason for his furlough, showing race was a factor in the decision to fire him.

“Because plaintiff has not come forward with any evidence to support his allegation that defendant’s stated reason for terminating his employment as a temporary attorney was pretext for race discrimination, defendant’s motion for summary judgment will be granted,” Jackson wrote.

Silva’s lawyer, Edgar Ndjatou, declined to comment on the case. Amy Kett and Paul Skelly of Hogan Lovells represented Cleary Gottlieb.

Cogan Schneier covers litigation in Washington, D.C., for the National Law Journal and Law.com. Contact her at cshneier@alm.com. On Twitter: @CoganSchneier.