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Fox Rothschild has fired one of its lawyers after a lawsuit accused him of trying to sexually assault a legal administrative assistant and sending her a barrage of sexually explicit texts, some of which included pictures of his penis.
Plaintiff Stephanie Jones alleges in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that 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.
“Ms. Jones never touched Siminoff,” the suit says. “Rather, she kept him at arm’s length to the extent she could.”
Siminoff is also accused of sending Jones sexually explicit text messages beginning in 2014. In 2017 alone, he sent “over 100 unsolicited sexually harassing text messages,” the suit says. Some included pictures of his penis, the suit alleges.
According to the suit, the texts included comments such as:
• “Ever told you look like Cindy Crawford?”
• “Don’t mind me, I’m just laying here at 3 am thinking about kissing your breasts.”
• “I’d like to pour that glass of wine on your naked body. … As I see it, it trickles down your breasts, in between them, to in between your legs.”
• “I had a nice birds eye view of your breasts today while talking to you.”
• “Filthy. I’d love to get filthy with you Steph.”
• “I’m doing what I usually do when I think of you.”
Fox Rothschild fired Siminoff, a counsel in Morristown, New Jersey, on Wednesday, the law firm said in a statement issued by general counsel Thomas Paradise. “We are disturbed by the details alleged in the complaint,” Paradise said.
The lawsuit “omits facts and contains inaccuracies,” Paradise said. “We believe once brought to light, those facts will demonstrate that Fox Rothschild takes any reporting of harassment as serious and conducts thorough investigations of such reported allegations, as noted in our harassment-free workplace policy. At no time prior to Ms. Jones’ termination from the firm did she report any incidents of harassment by Ian Siminoff as detailed in her complaint.”
Jones says she was fired in June 2017 after working since 1990 at Fox Rothschild and at a predecessor firm that it acquired.
Jones says she told the firm’s New Jersey office manager in August 2014 that Siminoff made her feel uncomfortable, was inappropriate and rude. She says she asked to be removed from the rotation of Siminoff’s desk, but the request was denied. The office manager allegedly told Jones that “if she was unhappy at Fox, she should look for another job,” according to the suit. The office manager allegedly said there were “plenty of other places to work.”
The alleged attempted rape occurred about five months later, the suit says, in January 2015.
Jones said she complained to the office manager again in February 2016 about a different lawyer, a partner who had been consistently singing “Me and Mrs. Jones,” a sexually suggestive song about an affair. According to the suit, Jones “addressed several incidents of abusive, humiliating, harassing behavior” by the partner, and the office manager said she would speak with him.
Jones said she raised the issue of possible retaliation by the partner. Fox Rothschild failed to follow procedures in its March 2015 handbook, which required an investigation, and a summary of findings and intended action, the suit contends.
Jones was assigned as a legal administrative assistant to the partner. She was previously a paralegal assigned to Siminoff and the labor and employment department.
The suit names Fox Rothschild and Siminoff as defendants.
“This is an employment discrimination case that concerns the failure of defendants to create, foster and promote a work environment in which their female employees are not subjected to discrimination, harassment and intimidation because of their gender, and in which management employees respect the right of female employees to be free from discrimination, harassment and intimidation because of their gender,” the suit says.
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