Employment Discrimination

Tico Almeida

[E]ven the most disgusting criminals should have access to counsel when they violate the law, and Exxon’s shareholders will now pay big bucks for Seyfarth’s lawyers, who are probably some of the most expensive corporate defense lawyers in the country. But I don’t think there’s any need for Seyfarth to run up their billable hours since Freedom to Work would like to settle the case today.

Tico Almeida, founder and president of Freedom to Work, commenting on Seyfarth Shaw’s decision to defend a case alleging anti-gay bias at Exxon Mobil — one of the few Fortune 500 companies that lacks a written nondiscrimination policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

(Will Seyfarth come to regret this case? Let’s discuss….)

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Juan Monteverde and Alexandra Marchuk

I just finished reading Gone Girl (affiliate link), the riveting and disturbing novel by Gillian Flynn. It brilliantly demonstrates, in a way that lawyers can appreciate, how the exact same set of events can be explained in radically different ways.

Given its focus on fighting, in terms of the war between the sexes and the battle for the truth, Gone Girl was appropriate to read in between the latest filings in Marchuk v. Faruqi & Faruqi. The salacious sexual harassment lawsuit has the entire legal world talking.

Yesterday we wrote about Alexandra Marchuk’s second amended complaint. Now let’s dive into the answer, filed with impressive swiftness after the complaint, which paints a very different picture of events and of the plaintiff….

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Juan Monteverde and Alexandra Marchuk

Alexandra Marchuk’s high-profile discrimination lawsuit, Marchuk v. Faruqi & Faruqi, continues to escalate. She filed her initial complaint against F&F and partner Juan Monteverde in March of this year, the firm fired back with counterclaims in April, and Marchuk amended her complaint later that month.

Last week, Marchuk filed a second amended complaint in the case. It contains some juicy new allegations, including some that refer to what discovery has supposedly unearthed so far….

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The front of the Supreme Court building: ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ (Click to enlarge.)

Justice O’Connor, Justice Stevens, Ted Olson, David Boies, Jeffrey Toobin.

All of them were at the Supreme Court today, eager to hear what the Court had to say. New gay-marriage crusading BFFs Olson and Boies sat together. Also in attendance were lots of other fancy folks — like Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Nina Totenberg — who are there more often.

There’s nothing like late June at One First Street.

At the start of the day, 11 cases remained to be decided, four of them blockbusters. The issues on deck: the Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8, the Voting Rights Act, and the University of Texas’s use of a form of affirmative action. Today, one of the big cases was resolved; with five others coming out, there are only six remaining.

Today, the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, addressed the University of Texas’s use of affirmative action. As the Chief Justice announced that Justice Kennedy had the opinion and would start reading it, a rush swept through the courtroom. People leaned forward. Papers rustled….

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Juan Monteverde

When Alexandra Marchuk filed her epic lawsuit against her former firm, Faruqi & Faruqi LLP, and one of its partners, Juan E. Monteverde, she aired a lot of dirty laundry. Here’s one allegation that got a lot of attention in the corporate-law community: “[In advance of a Delaware Chancery Court hearing,] Mr. Monteverde explained that Judge [Travis] Laster was partial to good-looking female lawyers, but F&F’s female local counsel was ugly; so Mr. Monteverde wanted Ms. Marchuk to appear with him because her good looks would influence the judge in favor of F&F. Mr. Monteverde told Ms. Marchuk to wear her hair down, wear a low-cut shirt, and to try to look as alluring as possible during the hearing.”

Some wondered: did members of the Delaware Chancery Court hear about this rather embarrassing allegation? The answer would appear to be yes, based on a letter that a Faruqi lawyer recently received after moving for Juan Monteverde to be admitted pro hac vice….

Please note the UPDATE added after the jump.

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Juan Monteverde and Alexandra Marchuk

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….

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A friendly reminder: this week is Secretaries’ Administrative Professionals’ Week. The day itself falls on Wednesday, so attorneys, buy your gifts now.

Alas, these are tough times for administrative assistants at law firms. We’re seeing an epidemic of staff layoffs, with secretaries among the hardest hit. In short, secretaries are getting spanked.

Sadly, these difficulties are not completely recent. Law firms have been reducing the ranks of secretaries for several years now.

Firing for economic reasons, while unfortunate, is legal. But one former Biglaw secretary, fired from her firm back in 2008, alleges that she was unlawfully terminated….

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‘Alone? With a man? Oh my, I just couldn’t!’

When it comes to equal opportunities in the workplace, women working in law firms have an especially raw deal. In most cases, men are the top earners, and they’re given more chances to bring in business than their female counterparts. Some claim that male lawyers have even gone so far as to purposely exclude women from client pitches and after-work bonding activities.

These observations aren’t new; women have been getting the shaft for decades in the good ol’ boys’ club we call the practice of law. But one law firm allegedly went a step further to shut out its female employees.

Deep in the heart of Texas, a female partner claims that men and women at her firm weren’t even allowed to work in the same room alone together with the door closed….

UPDATE (4/12/2013, 5:00 p.m.): Now with a statement from the firm, posted after the jump.

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Star-crossed lawyers: Juan Monteverde and Alexandra Marchuk.

If you want to sue a defense-side Biglaw firm for employment-related claims, go for it. Unless your lawsuit is bats**t insane, chances are the firm will settle with you. See, e.g., Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell; Schoenfeld v. Allen & Overy. Heck, you don’t even need to file an actual case; even threatened litigation can yield a six-figure payday.

Biglaw firms are busy — busy making money, of course — and very reputation-conscious. They don’t want to be distracted by litigation, and they don’t want their white shoes sullied by grime. They will pay good money to make headaches go away.

But suing a scrappy plaintiff-side firm is an entirely different story. They will hit back — and hard.

Last month, Alexandra Marchuk sued her former firm, Faruqi & Faruqi, making a host of salacious allegations. The most incendiary: that a partner of the firm, Juan Monteverde, forcibly had sex with her in his office after the firm holiday party.

Now the Faruqis and Monteverde are turning it around on Alexandra Marchuk. They’re suing her back, filing counterclaims and seeking an eight-figure sum….

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Patricia A. Martone

“You can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit.”

– Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman (affiliate link)

Take this famous line and replace “man” with “law firm partner,” and you’ve captured the gist of the lawsuit against Ropes & Gray brought by Patricia Martone, who alleges age and sex discrimination by her former firm. (Martone, a former IP litigation partner at Ropes, is now a Morrison & Foerster partner.)

When I broke the news of this lawsuit back in 2011, I expected a speedy settlement. Would Ropes really want to go toe to toe with a pair of high-powered litigatrices, namely, Martone and her formidable employment lawyer, Anne Vladeck?

But here we are, two years later, and the battle rages on. Ropes has hired a third leading litigatrix to defend itself. Let’s learn the latest news….

(Note the multiple UPDATES at the end of this post.)

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