Let’s start of 2012 with a bang! Over the holidays someone forwarded an article about a lawyer in Illinois who was suspended from the practice of law for a year. Why you might ask? Perhaps not, since the title of this post gives it away.
[L]aw firm looking to hire [an] energetic woman for their open secretary/legal assistant position. Duties will include general secretarial work, some paralegal work and additional duties for two lawyers in the firm. No experience required, training will be provided. Generous annual salary and benefits will be provided, including medical, dental, life, disability, 401(k) etc. If interested, please send current resume and a few pictures along with a description of your physical features, including measurements.
Removing all doubt, the lawyer later communicated explicitly what he expected in an email to a prospective candidate:
[I]n addition to the legal work, you would be required to have sexual interaction with me and my partner, sometimes together sometimes separate. This part of the job would require sexy dressing and flirtatious interaction with me and my partner, as well as sexual interaction. You will have to be comfortable doing this with us.
Because the lawyer had problems in the past lining up a new assistant that was truly up for the job, he stated the following in another follow up email:
Lastly, we’ve actually hired a couple of girls in the past for this position. But they have not been able to handle the sexual aspect of the job later. We have to be sure you’re comfortable with that aspect, because I don’t want you to do anything that you’re not comfortable with. So … we’ve decided that as part of the interview process you’ll be required to perform for us sexually (i didn’t do this before with the other girls i hired, now i think i have to because they couldn’t handle it). Because that aspect is an integral part of the job, I think it’s necessary to see if you can do that, because it’ll predict future behavior of you being able to handle it when you have the job….
You can’t make this stuff up! While this story has been posted on several legal humor blogs, my curiousity ran mostly to the employment law consequences. Ready for a surprise – it is a close call. You are immediately thinking that this must clearly be sexual harassment, but the prospective employer is being up front about what he expects so it would be difficult for a prospective employee or new employee to argue that the sexual advance of the lawyer was unwelcome as required to establish a claim.
Setting that aside, it might be criminally illegal and considered propositioning along the lines of prostitution.
So, if it is a close call from an employment context and the lawyer didn’t get criminally prosecuted, why was he suspended? He was suspended by the state bar for an ethical violation related to the practice of law.