Polsinelli defendant 'vehemently denies' sex harassment after another 'strongly denies' such conduct
Plaintiff Julia I. Rix worked in Polsinelli’s Washington, D.C., office. She alleged that she was denied business opportunities because Dov H. Scherzer, a technology and privacy partner with an international practice, and another partner sought to condition “working deals together” with demands for a sexual relationship. Photo from Shutterstock.
A second Polsinelli defendant is denying sexual harassment claims in a lawsuit filed by a former international corporate attorney at the law firm who claimed that she was “repeatedly hounded” for after-hours drinks and hotel meetings.
The plaintiff, Julia I. Rix, had identified Scherzer as a technology and privacy partner with an international practice in her $20 million suit filed Sept. 15. But Scherzer’s profile is no longer available on the Polsinelli website, Law360 points out.
Rix worked in Polsinelli’s Washington, D.C., office. She alleged that she was denied business opportunities because Scherzer and another partner sought to condition “working deals together” with demands for a sexual relationship. In one year alone, Rix’s suit says, Scherzer made at least nine separate requests for Rix to go to dinner and have drinks with him.
Rix said she finally agreed to meet Scherzer at a restaurant in New York City, and he followed her back to her hotel room for a single drink. In the room, Scherzer kissed Rix without her consent, the suit alleged. She “cajoled Scherzer from her room,” which led to his incessant texts asking to return, she said.
Scherzer said in his motion to dismiss he didn’t supervise Rix, didn’t work in the same office or even the same city, and didn’t have input regarding her work performance. And his alleged conduct wasn’t sufficiently “severe or pervasive” to constitute harassment or a hostile work environment, the motion said.
A second Polsinelli partner, Gabriel Yomi Dabiri, also “strongly denies” inappropriate conduct, sexual harassment or retaliation, according to an Oct. 26 dismissal motion filed by Dabiri and Polsinelli. Dabiri is Polsinelli’s New York managing partner and did not have supervisory authority over Rix.
Scherzer’s motion incorporated arguments submitted by Polsinelli and Dabiri in their dismissal motion. The prior motion had argued that Rix didn’t make allegations of sexual harassment until Polsinelli decided to fire her for “lackluster performance.”
Rix’s suit alleged violations of Washington, D.C., law, but her employment agreement says Missouri law should apply, according to the earlier dismissal motion. And the Missouri law claims “fail for various reasons.” The motion sought to dismiss several claims and to send others to arbitration.
Rix’s lawyer, William A. Brewer III of Brewer Attorneys & Counselors, told Law360 that both motions to dismiss reflect “the kind of procedural posturing which frustrates so many with our profession—evade the substance of the claims in favor of a cloud of misdirection.”
Brewer said Rix “looks forward to litigating her claims and laying bare the behavior of the firm and individual defendants.”