Law Firms

Sexual misconduct suit by BigLaw firm's former legal assistant is mostly dismissed

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A federal judge in New Jersey has mostly dismissed a lawsuit by a former legal assistant at Fox Rothschild, who claimed that a now-fired lawyer tried to sexually assault her.

U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton of the District of New Jersey allowed plaintiff Stephanie Jones to file an amended lawsuit with just three claims, Law360 reports.

Those claims are an alleged violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by the law firm and alleged violations of human rights laws in New York City and New York state by the law firm and the lawyer.

The human rights claims will depend on whether Jones, an employee of Fox Rothschild’s Morristown, New Jersey, office, can show a sufficient New York connection to the alleged wrongdoing, reports.

Jones had claimed that Fox Rothschild counsel Ian Siminoff tried to rape her in a deserted office bathroom, fondled her breasts once when she was in his office, and reached under her dress and grabbed at her vagina once when they were by the coffee machine. She also accused him of sending a barrage of sexually explicit texts.

Siminoff has said the relationship with Jones was consensual.

Jones was fired in June 2017. She filed her suit in December 2019, according to Law360. Fox Rothschild fired Siminoff, a counsel in Morristown, New Jersey, in December 2019.

In an Oct. 21 decision, Wigenton said allegations that Siminoff sent Jones harassing messages from New York did not amount to a sufficient nexus with the state and city to support claims under their human rights laws. But Wigenton gave Jones a chance to amend those claims.

Wigenton also said the Title VII allegation against the law firm can be refiled in an amended suit; Fox Rothschild had not sought dismissal of the claim, and Wigenton did not address its sufficiency against the law firm.

Wigenton also dismissed these claims:

• A Title VII claim against Siminoff. Wigenton said individual employees aren’t subject to liability under Title VII.

• A claim alleging violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Wigenton said Jones did not file her suit within the two-year statute of limitations.

• Claims against Siminoff for alleged assault and battery and for inflection of emotional distress. Both claims were filed too late, Wigenton said.

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