Bloomberg News

Proskauer Rose Asks Judge to Dismiss Discrimination Suit

November 16, 2011

(Updates with court documents in third paragraph.)

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Proskauer Rose LLP asked a court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Elly Rosenthal, its former chief financial officer, in which she alleged the law firm wrongly fired her after she took leave for treatment of breast cancer.

Rosenthal, of Colts Neck, New Jersey, sued Proskauer in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Oct. 5, seeking $10 million in damages. Rosenthal served as CFO of the New York- based firm until September 2008, when she was demoted to chief administrative financial officer, according to her lawsuit. She was fired in March of this year.

Proskauer denied the allegations in documents it filed Nov. 9. The firm asked the court to dismiss the complaint and award attorneys’ fees and legal expenses as well as costs to defend the accusations.

Rosenthal said in her complaint that she was hired as CFO in 1992 and held the position until her demotion. According to Proskauer’s response, Rosenthal was hired as director of finance in August 1992 and became CFO in December 2005 until August 2008, when she was named chief administrative financial officer.

Medical Leave

Rosenthal said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2007, received treatment and returned to work in March 2008 before deciding to take another three months of medical leave to recover, according to the complaint.

When she returned to work in August 2008, Proskauer’s chief operating officer, Art Gurwitz, and other male administrators began a “concerted effort to force her out of the firm,” her complaint said.

She was first replaced with a less qualified CFO who was male and then moved into a position with less authority and responsibility, according to the complaint. She was fired on March 11, and told to clear out her office within three days, according to her complaint.

Proskauer was ranked 38th by gross revenue on trade publication American Lawyer’s 2011 list of large U.S. law firms with $645 million in revenue last year. The firm has more than 660 attorneys.

The case is Rosenthal v. Proskauer Rose LLP, 111343/2011, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

--Editors: Mary Romano, Andrew Dunn

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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