We employment lawyer types proudly boast that no one has better legal stories to tell than we do (if only we could tell all of our stories). Some of our best stories were thrust into the media during the first quarter of 2015. Not only are these stories juicy, but they are cautionary tales and a learning experience for employers.
On February 5, 2015, a jury in Manhattan found the law firm of Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, and one of the firm’s partners, partially liable for creating a hostile work environment. A former associate claimed that the partner, a reputed rainmaker, repeatedly spoke to her using crude and vulgar language, kissed her and touched her breasts without her consent, and propositioned her. She alleged his conduct culminated in a sexual assault following an office holiday party. The partner testified that the former associate voluntarily returned to the office with him, but that no sexual encounter ever occurred. Following a highly publicized three week trial, the jury found that the law firm and the partner did not violate the federal anti-harassment law. However, the jury did award the former associate $140,000 in damages, representing $90,000 in lost compensation, $45,000 in punitive damages against the partner, and $5,000 in punitive damages against the firm. Continue reading this entry