The plaintiff details alleged misconduct by a senior associate that includes fondling her breasts, reaching under her dress and grabbing at her crotch, and attempted rape.
A former paralegal is suing Fox Rothschild and a senior associate for employment discrimination, alleging multiple acts of rather graphic sexual harassment by the senior associate, who also purportedly determined work assignments, conducted performance reviews, established schedules, and had hiring and firing authority. She also alleges sexual misconduct by a partner at the firm.
Work environment. The lawsuit concerns the defendants’ failure "to create, foster, and promote a work environment in which their female employees are not subjected to discrimination, harassment, and intimidation because of their gender, and in which management employees respect the right of female employees to be free from discrimination, harassment, and intimidation because of their gender," according to the complaint.
The eight-count complaint raises claims under Title VII, the New York State Human Rights Law, the New York City Human Rights Law, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination for gender discrimination and retaliation. The plaintiff also alleges claims of civil assault and battery, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision and retention.
Sexual harassment. The plaintiff details a number of offensive acts allegedly committed by the senior associate that include:
- asking her if she likes oral sex;
- sexually explicit and sexually harassing text messages (some of which included photographs of his penis);
- fondling her breasts;
- reaching under her dress and grabbing at her vagina; and
- attempted rape in a law firm bathroom.
The plaintiff also alleges that a partner at the law firm also committed "several incidents of abusive, humiliating, harassing behavior," including that he consistently sang ‘"Me and Mrs. Jones," a sexually suggestive song about an illicit affair.’"
Complaints about misconduct. When the plaintiff asked the office manager to move her off of the senior associate’s desk, the request was denied, according to the complaint. The office manager also purportedly told the plaintiff that "if she was unhappy at Fox, she should look for another job," and that "there were ‘plenty of other places to work.’" Similarly, the plaintiff alleges that the office manager failed to take adequate measures when she complained about the partner’s conduct and raised retaliation concerns.
"[Fox Rothschild] has a pattern and practice of violating the rights of its female employees and protecting their male harassers," according to the complaint. The plaintiff alleges that the firm previously was cited for similar violations of federal and state employment laws for protecting a former partner "who was accused by several female attorneys of sexual harassment and sex discrimination and was forced to resign in 2017 after an internal investigation into the allegations."
Relief. The plaintiff is asking the court for all available damages in law and equity, including back pay, front pay, past and future mental anguish and pain and suffering, attorney’s fees, costs, expenses, and expert witness fees.
Fox Rothschild responds. The general counsel for Fox Rothschild told Labor and Employment Law Daily that the law firm is "disturbed by the details alleged" and that the senior associate named in the complaint was terminated on December 18. "At no time prior to [the plaintiff’s] termination from the firm did she report any incidents of harassment by [the senior associate] as detailed in her complaint," the general counsel said in a statement.
"The filing omits facts and contains inaccuracies," the general counsel continued. "We believe once brought to light, those facts will demonstrate that Fox Rothschild takes any reporting of harassment as serious and conducts thorough investigations of such reported allegations, as noted in our Harassment-Free Workplace Policy."
The lawsuit, Jones v. Fox Rothschild LLP, was filed in the Southern District of New York; the case is No. 1:19-cv-11573.
Attorneys: Tyrone A. Blackburn (T.A. Blackburn Law, PLLC) and Robert T. Vance Jr. (Law Offices of Robert T. Vance Jr.) for plaintiff.
Companies. Fox Rothschild LLP
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