For connoisseurs of salacious suits, Marchuk v. Faruqi & Faruqi is the gift that keeps on giving. First Alexandra Marchuk, a young lawyer and recent Vanderbilt Law graduate, sued the Faruqi firm, claiming that she was subjected to relentless sexual harassment during the short time that she worked there. Then the Faruqis and partner Juan Monteverde fired back, filing aggressive counterclaims against Marchuk.
Marchuk isn’t taking these claims lying down. She has amended her complaint to add new causes of action and to increase her multimillion-dollar demand….
Here’s a report from Casey Sullivan of Thomson Reuters, who broke the news:
A former Faruqi & Faruqi associate on Friday made additional claims in a workplace discrimination lawsuit against her former law firm and one of its partners, increasing the damages she is seeking from $7 million to $13 million….
Marchuk in her amended complaint disputed several key points of Faruqi & Faruqi’s counterclaim, including that more than half of its business comes from public companies and that her lawsuit had caused the firm to lose business.
“The Defendants’ true purpose in filing the counterclaims was to retaliate against Ms. Marchuk by generating negative publicity about her,” said Marchuk’s lawyer Harry Lipman in court papers. Lipman pointed to the fact that Faruqi & Faruqi issued a press release to promote their counterclaim.
Marchuk argues in the amended complaint that the Faruqi counterclaims constitute illegal retaliation against her for filing the original lawsuit. She maintains, contrary to the Faruqis’ claims, that she did not disseminate her original lawsuit to the media (including Above the Law, which gets a lovely shout-out in paragraph 87 as a “popular legal website”). She adds, though, that there is nothing improper about alerting the media to the filing of a lawsuit — which Faruqi & Faruqi does all the time, as reflected in the hundreds of press releases on its website.
Marchuk also claims that many of the statements in the counterclaims are false. For example, the counterclaims assert that she was ineligible for a bonus in 2011, even though her offer letter, included as an exhibit, stated that she would be eligible for a year-end bonus in 2011.
(Also note the typo in the offer letter: “Dear Alexander” (which in no way signals a subconscious lack of respect for women). It’s this kind of sloppiness that causes Biglaw firms to look down upon small firms — even though Biglaw firms make typos too, sometimes very costly ones.)
We’ve posted the amended complaint in full on the next page. For the new material, focus on paragraphs five to eight, paragraphs 84 to 109, and the third claim for relief, alleging retaliation.
Who’s telling the truth here? Only time — and discovery — will tell. Based on developments to date, we’re hopeful that the parties, instead of quietly settling the matter, will both wind up on the carpet.