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Former Proskauer CFO Sues Firm for Employment Discrimination

Former Chief Financial Officer of Proskauer Rose LLP Elly Rosenthal is suing for employment discrimination. She alleges the law firm fired her following the leave she took for treatment for breast cancer.

The suit seeks $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Rosenthal, who served as CFO for over fifteen years, from 1992 to 2008, filed the lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

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Rosenthal held the position of CFO until 2008, when she was demoted to chief administrative financial officer. She was then fired in March of 2011.

Rosenthal’s attorney, David Sanford of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, was quoted as having said in a statement in the October 5th businessweek.com article, “Proskauer Rose Sued by Former CFO for Discrimination”: “After one of its most senior female employees worldwide was diagnosed with breast cancer and took cancer treatment leave, Proskauer Rose demoted and then terminated her.”

Diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2007, Rosenthal received treatment and returned to work in March 2008. Then, she made the decision to take another three months of medical leave for recovery, per the complaint.

Also per the complaint, Rosenthal states that when she returned to work in August 2008, Proskauer’s chief operating officer, Art Gurwitz, and other male administrators began a “concerted effort to force her out of the firm,” per the businessweek.com article.

According to the October 5th nydailynews.com article, “Breast-cancer survivor claims elite law firm fired her after taking medical leave in new suit”, Rosenthal was quoted as saying: “I feel blindsided. I don’t know how we went from ‘Elly, get well and there will always be a place for you’ to ‘By the way, be out of here in three days.’”

Also per the nydailynews.com article, Sanford was quoted as saying: “No one should find themselves in this situation. You should be able to take cancer leave, come back and have your job be the same.”

Rosenthal also said, per the article, that the firm’s chairman at the time, Allen Fagin was supportive and told her there would always be a place for her at Proskauer, and that her health needed to come first.

Rosenthal was also quoted as saying: “I had fabulous relationships up and down the firm. It was a place I loved working at.”

Founded in 1875, Proskauer Rose is an international law firm offering a wide variety of legal services to clients, globally. Areas of practice with which the firm has experience are numerous, and include corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, real estate transactions, bankruptcy and reorganizations, taxation, litigation, trusts and estates, intellectual property, and labor and employment law. As well, its clients are in a wide variety of industries, including chemicals, entertainment, financial services, health care, hospitality, and information technology, sports and transportation, to name a few.

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