Proskauer Rose LLP Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Case name: Elly Rosenthal v. Proskauer Rose LLP

Case type: Employment Discrimination

Filed in: [Supreme Court of the State of New York]

Docket: [Case No.: 0111343/2011]

Case Summary

On October 5, 2011, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a $10 million employment discrimination complaint against international law firm Proskauer Rose LLP on behalf of Proskauer’s longtime female Chief Financial Officer, Elly Rosenthal.

The Complaint alleged that the same firm known for defending companies against employment discrimination suits discriminated against one of its own management-side employees, Ms. Rosenthal, who was marginalized by her male superiors and co-workers and ultimately terminated by the firm after taking medical leave to receive surgical treatment for breast cancer.

The Complaint alleged disability discrimination, in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law and New York State Law.

Ms. Rosenthal was hired as Proskauer’s CFO in 1992 and held that position in the firm’s Manhattan office for 16 years. According to the Complaint, Ms. Rosenthal managed global financial functions for the firm and a staff of more than 70 employees. Under her leadership, the firm grew to more than 700 attorneys, generating some $675 million in annual revenue. She was frequently recognized by the firm for her outstanding performance and strong relationships, the Complaint said.

Ms. Rosenthal received a breast cancer diagnosis in late 2007 and underwent treatment that included two rounds of surgery. She initially returned to work in March 2008, just a few weeks after her final surgery, before deciding to take a further three-month medical leave to complete her recovery. At the time she took this leave, the Complaint alleged, she was told by Proskauer’s Chairman Allen Fagin, “There will always be a place for you” at Proskauer.

Instead, according to the Complaint, when Ms. Rosenthal returned to Proskauer in August 2008, Proskauer’s COO and other male administrators began a concerted effort to force her out of the firm, first by moving her to a new position, conveyed as part of a re-organization, and naming as CFO a male candidate with inferior qualifications.

During her last three years at the firm as CAFO, Ms. Rosenthal experienced a significant cut in pay, while others orchestrated a campaign to undermine her position, the Complaint alleged.

When Proskauer moved to a new facility in 2011, Ms. Rosenthal was given a secondary office space eight blocks away, the Complaint said. The culmination of Proskauer’s discrimination occurred when she was summarily terminated on March 11, 2011 and told to clear out her office and be gone in three days.

The matter was concluded in June 2013.

Attorneys Involved in the Case