'Collecting Salary From The Firm While Sitting On Your Ass' Is Certainly ONE Way For A Senior Lawyer To Describe … – Above the Law

'Collecting Salary From The Firm While Sitting On Your Ass' Is Certainly ONE Way For A Senior Lawyer To Describe … – Above the Law

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[UPDATE: The firm has issued a statement. Also the article was edited to reflect that the lawyer’s official title doesn’t appear to be “partner” on his bio.]
There’s a lot more wrong with this text message than just characterizing maternity leave — which is protected under the relevant state law — as “collecting salary from the firm while sitting on your ass” but that’s a pretty good place to start this testament to the toxicity and misogyny on full display here.
This message comes to us from Ohio, where a senior attorney texted an associate a harassing message denigrating maternity leave and threatening to derail the future job prospects of a departing associate.
Screenshot 2023-01-09 at 3.06.37 PM
Based on the four corners of this text, this lawyer proposed that the firm fire an attorney during her maternity leave because he suspected that she might be exercising her free market right to look for another job. Attorneys are not serfs! Even if the leave afforded by the firm exceeded the legally protected duration, you still can’t offer “leave” and then fire people for taking it. There’s no scenario where an attorney should get mixed up with a firm that even entertains that thought. In fact, the firm should’ve cut ties with this lawyer for even suggesting a retaliatory firing during maternity leave.
We’ve not confirmed the attorney behind this text, though we have at this time an unverified tip we trust, suggesting that this lawyer is a labor and employment attorney.
You get one guess whether he represents the management side or not. [Since publication, we’ve confirmed that this text was sent by Jon Dileno of Zashin & Rich]
Senior in-house attorney Kelley Barnett hit it dead on in a LinkedIn post about this text:
I wonder what the Supreme Court of Ohio, the American Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and other organizations charged with the responsibility of promoting professionalism in the industry might think about that text message. Form your own opinions. Here’s mine.
There is no universe in which this kind of behavior (in writing or not) should be acceptable. Law firms, and the lawyers within law firms, should not be sovereign entities where deplorable behavior like this goes unchallenged. Firm culture is defined by (among other things) what is tolerated, not the words and pictures on firm websites and marketing materials. It’s defined by the boots-on-the-ground reality taking place in firm halls, offices and conference rooms.
And what appears to go on at this firm is sexist bullying.
HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.
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