Former CFO Narrows Her Suit Against Proskauer
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A former CFO for Proskauer Rose has modified her allegations against the firm that abruptly fired her, changing her $10 million suit of 2011 which claimed that they unfairly fired her for age, gender, and disability-related discrimination, and focusing exclusively on the disability. After all, Elly Rosenthal had just survived breast cancer, and this after 3 months of medical leave to recover from two major surgeries, and it was upon her return that her responsibilities and standing were systematically undermined.

The final dismissal of March 12, 2011 came two decades after she got on board with Proskauer in 1992, two decades of work making the most use of her previous decades as an accountant for such other firms as Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and at accounting firm KPMG. Proskauer promoted her to chief financial officer in 2005.


As Am Law explains, that role was not awaiting her on her return from cancer leave. Instead, they had freshly created a new title of chief administrative financial adviser that would step her down a notch from the firm’s new CFO, Jim Barbaria. She complained that he was in fact less qualified than her, having never worked as a certified public accountant, and having never headed a finance department.

Further losses included a 10 percent pay cut, bringing her to $423,000, in consideration that she now worked less than five days a week upon her return, and she was also denied a bonus as a means of “offsetting the three months of paid medical leave.”

Nor was her 2009 performance evaluation stellar, but Proskauer’s chief operating officer, Art Gurwitz, who had already said “there will always be a place for you” at Proskauer, seemed a little less certain. He still contended that her history with the company made her a good fit for her new job, but said that “it is difficult to now be in a new management role at a time when the industry is changing-rapidly-and as a firm we are modifying/integrating/enhancing/eliminating,” the techniques and procedures she was used to.

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This strain of thought led the company to “orchestrate a concerted campaign to undermine Ms. Rosenthal’s authority,” first by banishing her office to a different building from their new midtown Manhattan headquarters, and finally, in March 11, 2011, to tell her she was to meet with Gurwitz the subsequent day, upon which he said there was “no role” for her at Proskauer any longer, and she was in fact terminated and had three days to clear out her things.

Her complaint, which is focusing mostly on her treatment as a cancer victim, considers “Proskauer’s abrupt dismissal of Ms. Rosenthal, without warning of any kind, despite her nearly two decades of loyal service to the firm,” as constituting “malicious or recklessly indifferent treatment.”

By focusing on one specific claim of discrimination, they may have more of an inlet into making a case.


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