Sexual Harassment

If you’re looking to catch up on your reading of classic novels, I’d recommend Tess of the d’Urbervilles (affiliate link) — or, to use its complete title, “Tess of the d’Urbervilles: A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented.” It tells the story of a virtuous but destitute young woman who takes a job working for the wealthy d’Urberville family. While working for them, she receives unwanted advances from a libertine son, who develops an obsession with her. Complications ensue.

I was reminded of Tess of the d’Urbervilles upon reading a complaint that was just filed in federal district court here in New York. The complaint tells the story of a virtuous but debt-saddled young woman who takes a job working for a boutique law firm. While working for them, she receives unwanted advances from a libertine partner, who develops an obsession with her. Complications ensue.

Multiple sources brought the lawsuit to our attention. The complaint is going viral over email — partly because the allegations are shocking (and very sad if true), and partly because they’re being made against a prominent New York lawyer.

Let’s check out the complaint. At 24 pages, it’s much shorter than Tess of the d’Urbervilles….

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I’m not even sure if the ten little Indians song is still kosher, so I’m guessing that jokes about ten big Indians are obviously wrong.

Last night, we told you that the interim dean of Saint Louis University School of Law was stepping down because of “inappropriate comments.”

Dean Tom Q. Keefe admitted to making inappropriate comments. But he didn’t exactly apologize for them. Instead he said: “The problem is I’m just too politically incorrect to be a dean.”

I guess thinking for yourself as a casualty of “political correctness” is one way to avoid actually confronting and dealing with your own inappropriate behavior. But when your law dean allegedly says that he’s “drunker than ten big Indians,” I don’t think the problem is that people are oversensitive….

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‘Get on your knees and beg for that file!’

Has anyone seen that movie Secretary? It’s about a law firm love affair — woman gets released from mental hospital, gets a job as a legal secretary, and enters into a BDSM relationship with her boss. Pretty standard, really, because you’d have to have some sadomasochistic tendencies to willingly subject yourself to a partner’s whims on a daily basis.

As some of you know (admit it, you do), when these illicit law firm relationships occur, they’re usually only discussed in secret behind closed doors. But when one of the those allegedly involved is an unwilling participant, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away from allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, and your darkest sexual proclivities will be revealed for all the world to see.

Despite the fact that many women wish they had a Christian Grey to dominate them, it’s a little less sexy when the man who’s allegedly at the center of this would-be torrid affair is just shy of his full retirement age. But hey, even old farts are allowed to dream.

Let’s find out who the players are in this failed office romance. Be sure to remember your safe word….

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If Law & Order were still around, this would make for a good episode. A Manhattan lawyer was accused by his sister-in-law of sexual assault. But now the lawyer has filed a countersuit claiming defamation. He says that he and his sister-in-law engaged in a consensual sexual relationship as he was trying to help her conceive.

Why does he say he did it? Because he respects her husband (his brother-in-law) so much!

You’ve got to love the self-importance of Manhattan attorneys….

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* Is this contract for sex based on Facebook likes enforceable? [Gawker]

* Speaking of unenforceable contracts, what in the hell does Bilbo sign before his unexpectedly long journey? [Wired]

* And Jesus, you certainly can’t barter legal services for sex! I think everybody needs to go home and read the Second Restatement. [Indianapolis Star]

* Now you can hear for yourself the three words that Clarence Thomas spoke. It’s at the 41-minute mark. [The Supreme Court]

* Ms. JD is offering lawyers and law students the chance to submit questions to ABA President Laurel Bellows that will be answered at an event on January 31 (with viewing parties around the country). [Ms. JD]

* How to answer a question when an interviewer asks you something that you don’t have to answer. [Lawyers.com]

* Litigation can be a good excuse to get your client to do things they should have been doing all along. [What About Clients?]

* North Carolina dean claims she was forced to underreport sexual assaults at the college. When reached for comment, the Duke Lacrosse team said, “We kind of have the opposite problem.” [Salon]

We offer a lot of coverage of lawyers suing their law firms. They’re almost always the same: lawyer is fired; lawyer finds something to sue the employer over. Sometimes the lawyer’s claims have merit; sometimes they don’t.

It’s a little more rare for a law professor to sue his or her law school. That’s probably because it’s much harder for a law professor to be fired or pushed out. Oftentimes you only see lawsuits from professors when they feel like they’ve been unfairly denied tenure. After they get tenure, well, there’s little the law school can do to them anyway.

Well, unless the school concludes that a professor “poses a safety risk,” to the students at the law school. Then, the professor can be suspended.

And then, much like a lawyer in private practice, the law professor will sue the school….

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The ‘well dressed’ alleged groper.

Our long national nightmare is over. Law enforcement authorities claim that the so-called “Well-Dressed Groper” or “Gentleman Groper” has finally been caught.

For those outside the New York area who don’t understand how a man who is accused of sexual assault earned the aforementioned monikers, I don’t know what to tell you. I think it probably has something to do with the New York media not being particularly interested in the sexual assault that happens to working-class women all across this city, but this guy was allegedly grabbing the asses of educated women, and he doesn’t wear a hoodie, so… WELL DRESSED GROPER.

The other interesting twist is that this time the police believe they have the right man. Which means that there was a time when they caught and accused the wrong man.

The innocent man was well-dressed, but not a struggling attorney, so I always thought that bust was fishy…

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* “[L]awyers aren’t trained as accountants,” but Gibson Dunn, Freshfields, Drinker Biddle, and Skadden may have some splainin’ to do when it comes to Hewlett-Packard’s M&A blowout with Autonomy. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Looks like it’s time for some holiday musical chairs: Dorsey & Whitney’s managing partner Marianne Short will be leaving the firm at year’s end to join UnitedHealth as its chief legal officer. [Twin Cities Business]

* The court-ordered mediation between Hostess and the bakers’ union broke down last night. If Judge Drain approves the company’s liquidation plan, the Twinkie may disappear from whence it came. [Reuters]

* Remember the students from Texas Southern who sued because their contracts prof allegedly “curve[d] them out of the class”? Yeah, that got dismissed faster than you can say R2K §90. [National Law Journal]

* You shall not pass — or use Lord of the Rings characters in online gambling games! J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate is suing Warner Brothers for $80M over improper licensing of the late author’s characters. [Bloomberg]

* Please don’t tickle me, Elmo. One week after an accuser recanted his allegations against puppeteer Kevin Clash, another one filed suit over an underage sexual relationship. [Media Decoder / New York Times]

* There’s nothing like some man-on-man sexual harassment to get you going in the morning. Sparks Steak House paid $600K to settle charges lodged by 22 male servers over an eight year period. [Corporate Counsel]

* Seems like this pulchritudinous plaintiff’s contract case is still kicking, and Emel Dilek testified that sleeping with the boss was “absolutely not” one of her roles during her time at Mercedes-Benz. [New York Post]

* Lululemon and Calvin Klein have settled their patent spat over elastic waistbands on yoga pants. Here’s hoping the Canadian yoga-wear company turned this lemon of a lawsuit into lemonade. [Businessweek]

* What do divorcées do in their spare time? They go to Florida’s $350M courthouse to spray paint it with broken hearts and notes for the judge who presided over their proceedings. [Riptide 2.0 / Miami New Times]

* BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 charges and pay $4.5B in fines, but before going through with it, several Biglaw firms helped the company sell off assets to fund litigation- and spill-related costs. [Am Law Daily]

* According to HBR Consulting, compensation for in-house attorneys has risen over the past year — including bonuses, which went up to $62,500. Sorry, but Biglaw isn’t following suit. [Corporate Counsel]

* It’s better to leave well enough alone: Pryor Cashman was ordered to pay more than $21K in legal fees for filing a frivolous motion over its repeated attempts to dismiss a case. [New York Law Journal]

* Judge Susan McDunn, who claimed that her “life [was] being ruined” by the secret lawsuits of many powerful Chicagoans, has resigned. Looks like her $182K salary wasn’t enough to buy crazy pills. [Chicago Tribune]

* James T. Hayes Jr., the ICE agent who accused his superior of subjecting male employees to her “sexually offensive behavior,” settled his discrimination lawsuit against the government for $175,000. [Washington Post]

We have new developments to report in the case of Madam Justice Lori Douglas, the Canadian judge featured in pornographic pictures reflecting BDSM themes. As you may recall, the Canadian Judicial Council is currently investigating Douglas, based in part on claims that she sexually harassed a former client of her husband’s.

That client, Alex Chapman, claimed that the judge’s husband, Jack King, used the nude photos of Justice Douglas to try and entice Chapman into a three-way. Chapman testified that he was “disgusted” by the “terrible pictures” and that King “bull[ied]” him and “raped [his] mind.”

But if the latest allegations about him are true, Chapman is no innocent….

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