Law Firm Sexual Harassment Claim Filed in New York District Court

Former Associate Says Law Firm Engaged in Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last month, a former associate of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter (M,D,M & C) alleged that the firm, which has more than 300 lawyers in seven states, treated male attorneys differently than female attorneys, and engaged in sexual harassment. The plaintiff, Elina Chechelnitsky, worked in the bankruptcy practice in the firm’s Newark office, but lived in Manhattan during the time she worked for M,D,M, & C.

According to an article in the New Jersey Law Journal, Chechelnitsky’s lawsuit alleges numerous acts of discrimination, including:

  • A pattern of assigning more billable work to male attorneys, allowing them to accrue larger bonuses than female lawyers
  • The requirement that female associates sign a release and confidentiality agreement if they want to socialize with male lawyers outside of the office
  • The practice of sending female minority associates to meetings with minority clients, even if those associates have had no involvement with the case
  • Offering a “retreat” for female lawyers while hosting annual male-only golf retreats, where male associates had opportunities to interact with partners and firm leaders. Chechelnitsky says she was instructed to attend the women’s retreat.

Chechelnitsky says that, while working as a summer associate in 2008, she was subjected to sexual harassment by the male associate who mentored her. She reported the harassment to a female attorney, but was simply advised to stay away from the male associate. She says the firm took no action, and the harassment didn’t stop.

She also alleges that, while employed at the firm, she met and started dating an associate from the firm’s Morristown office. While she was dating him, she claims, she received assignments that would allow her to bill above the firm’s minimum requirements, making her eligible for bonuses. After she stopped dating him, however, the bankruptcy department in Morristown stopped giving her assignments.

Chechelnitsky says that she took her concerns about discrimination and sexual harassment to two partners at the firm in 2012, then was fired in July, 2013. Firm officials told her that there wasn’t enough work to keep her, but they brought in a new male attorney within weeks of her termination.

Contact the Employment Law Attorneys at Leeds Brown Law, PC

At Leeds Brown Law, we provide aggressive and effective legal counsel to professionals who face discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace. Call us at 516-873-9550 or 212-661-4370 (toll-free at 1-800-585-4658) or send us an e-mail to schedule a meeting.