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Former Proskauer Rose CFO sues firm for discrimination

Elly Rosenthal claims former colleagues marginalized her based on gender

The former chief financial officer of Proskauer Rose filed a discrimination suit in New York state court today against the international law firm.

Elly Rosenthal claims her former employer marginalized and terminated her based on her gender, age and medical condition, according to the suit, which alleges that women make up only 15 percent of the firm’s more than 200 partners.

Rosenthal was Proskauer’s CFO for 16 years before taking medical leave in 2008 for breast cancer treatment. When she returned, she was demoted to “chief administrative financial officer” and terminated without warning in March 2011.

Her complaint states she “never received a single negative review,” and claims she was frequently sidelined by the firm’s male leaders, including Chief Operating Officer Art Gurwitz and current CFO Jim Barbaria. After her demotion, her pay was cut and her office was relocated to a secondary location away from the firm’s headquarters.

“As the website of law firm Proskauer Rose proudly proclaims, for more than seventy years the Firm has been ‘synonymous with labor law,’” the complaint states. “Unfortunately for Elly Rosenthal, Proskauer’s CFO and one of its longest-serving employees, this management-side experience has served the Firm all too well.”

Although discrimination suits are common, ones filed by higher-level employees like Rosenthal are rare. She is seeking $10 million in damages.

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