Proskauer Rose Sued by Ex-CFO for Discrimination After Breast-Cancer Leave

Proskauer Rose LLP was sued for employment discrimination in New York by former Chief Financial Officer Elly Rosenthal, who accused the law firm of firing her after she took leave for breast cancer treatment.

Rosenthal, 57, of Colts Neck, New Jersey, who served as CFO from 1992 to 2008, filed the lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan today, seeking $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages, according to the complaint.

Rosenthal was hired as CFO of the New York-based firm in 1992 and held the position until she was demoted to chief administrative financial officer in September 2008, she said in the complaint. She was fired in March 2011.

“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,” Rosenthal’s attorney, David Sanford of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, said in a statement.

Rosenthal was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2007, received treatment and returned to work in March 2008 before deciding to take another three months of medical leave to recover, according to the complaint.

‘Concerted Effort’

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,” according to the complaint.

She was first replaced with a less qualified CFO who was male and then moved into a position with less authoritiy and responsibility, according to the complaint. She was fired on March 11 and told to clear out her office within three days, according to the complaint.

Proskauer is ranked 38th by gross revenue on trade publication American Lawyer’s 2011 list of large U.S. law firms with $645 million in revenue last year. The firm has more than 660 attorneys.

Josh Epstein, a spokesman for Proskauer, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment on Rosenthal’s complaint.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net; Sophia Pearson in Wilmington at spearson3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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