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'Misogynistic' McElroy Deutsch defamed and retaliated against former executive, amended suit alleges

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McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter’s former director of business and professional development has said she did nothing wrong when she used corporate card points for personal travel. Yet she was fired in April. Image from Shutterstock.

A fired executive at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter has come out swinging in an amended countersuit claiming that the law firm retaliated against her and made unwarranted assumptions when it accused her of being aware of her husband’s alleged embezzlement.

Nicole Alexander, a lawyer who was the firm’s former director of business and professional development, said she did nothing wrong when she used American Express corporate card points for personal travel. Yet she was fired in April at the same time that the firm accused her husband, former McElroy Deutsch chief financial officer John Dunlea, of misappropriating more than $3.2 million from the firm over a period of 10 years.

At the time, the firm said it thought that Alexander was aware of the embezzlement given “the couple’s lavish lifestyle,” according to a lawsuit filed by McElroy Deutsch on June 27. The couple live in a million-dollar home in Westfield, New Jersey, and they “took expensive vacations together, staying at the finest, most opulent hotels in the world,” the suit said.

Alexander’s amended countersuit said she and her husband together earned more than $700,000 per year, she had a side business approved by the firm, and she “received a substantial inheritance in 2017.” She was not aware at the time that her husband was still paying substantial alimony to his ex-wife. The couple have separate bank accounts, except for a joint account used to pay their mortgage.

“This case involves the aggressive and relentless victimization of a woman, merely because of who she is married to and because of the perceived inappropriate lifestyle as judged by this misogynistic law firm,” Alexander’s amended countersuit said.

“McElroy Deutsch found it easy to go after Ms. Alexander as they perceived her to be a liability, not because of who she was married to but because of their violations of the law that she was raising in the months, weeks and days before her termination.”

Law360 has coverage of Alexander’s amended countersuit filed Sept. 1.

The amended suit adds three counts to Alexander’s initial claim that McElroy Deutsch engaged in marital status discrimination.

The amended suit claims that the firm retaliated against Alexander for raising concerns about the firm’s poor statistics regarding women and minorities. She also learned that male attorneys received substantial bonuses and raises, even though she was told that firmwide compensation was being reduced—including a 10% cut to her compensation—because of poor firm performance in 2022, the suit said.

The firm only invites male attorneys to its annual golf outing in Pennsylvania and hosts meetings associated with ABA forums to which little or no female attorneys were invited, the suit said. In addition, the co-managing partner hosts a practice group holiday event to which no women were ever invited.

Alexander also said the firm defamed her when it accused her of spending $89,000 on a hotel stay at the Hotel Del Coronado in California, even though she never used the firm credit card. And the firm wrongly accused her of spending firm money on a birthday party in Paris, even though she used her money for the party.

Alexander “is the victim of the firm’s vengeance against her husband,” her suit said.

Another count alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress for wrongly characterizing Alexander’s “role in the misdeeds alleged against her husband,” the suit said. “In pursuing its vendetta against Mr. Dunlea, the firm has intentionally taken affirmative acts to destroy Ms. Alexander’s life.”

McElroy Deutsch general counsel Lucille J. Karp and its lawyer in the litigation, Kevin H. Marino, did not immediately reply to email requests for comment by the ABA Journal.

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