A former associate plans to file a $50 million lawsuit against Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, accusing the firm of denying her a promotion to partner because she is a lesbian and of doing nothing to stop higher-ups from harassing her, according to the complaint.
The former associate, Julie Kamps, plans to file the lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan. Kamps, who previously filed a less detailed complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claims that a female partner at Fried Frank sexually harassed her. She also alleges that the firm instructs lawyers to write exaggerated negative performance reviews about associates the firm wants out.
Kamps, worked at Fried Frank from 1998 until January of this year, when the firm terminated her in the middle of an arbitration hearing.
In the complaint, Kamps claims that Janice Mac Avoy, a litigation partner, “knowingly made unwelcome sexual advances and sexual comments to Kamps, both alone and in the presence of others.” Mac Avoy allegedly “told Kamps it was ‘the biggest regret of her life’ that she had not slept with Kamps ‘when she had the chance,'” and discussed various sexual acts with Kamps, the complaint states. Kamps also alleges that Mac Avoy encouraged her to “wear women’s clothes,” because William McGuinness, chair of the firm’s litigation department, believed Kamps’ preference for men’s shirts could “make clients uncomfortable.”
The complaint names both Mac Avoy and McGuinness as defendants. It also names David Hennes, a litigation partner who, Kamps alleges, asked her to write a negative review of an attorney that the firm was “trying to get rid of,” the complaint says. Kamps refused to write the review; she claims Hennes began harassing her as a result of her refusal. She claims Hennes laughed at her after assigning an underperforming associate to one of her matters, and she alleges Hennes indicated he was “watching” Kamps by “pointing to his eyes and then at Kamps.”
Kamps claims in her lawsuit that she has never received a negative performance evaluation or a solid reason for her dismissal. Kamps claims the firm’s alleged mistreatment of her got worse in late 2007, when she complained about the firm’s failure to promote her. The firm responded to the complaint by hiring an outside consultant to conduct an internal investigation. In her complaint, Kamps calls the investigation “woefully inadequate.”
In a separate proceeding, the EEOC issued Kamps a notice of right to sue in November.
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