A former legal secretary at Troutman Sanders has sued the law firm and one of its partners for alleged sex bias, sexual harassment and retaliation.
The plaintiff, Jessica Correa, says she was sexually harassed by a partner who stared at her breasts, kissed her without permission, and told her she needed a sugar daddy. Bloomberg Law and Law360 have coverage.
Correa says the partner’s attempts to kiss her caused nausea and, on one occasion, vomiting.
The partner is now a partner at Locke Lord, according to Law360. The suit, filed Aug 12. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, is here.
Correa’s $1 million suit says she was hired as a legal secretary for two partners at the law firm in January 2017. A month later, one of the partners began calling her “cutie” and stared at her breasts “openly and purposefully,” according to the suit.
During weekly expense meetings, the partner would initiate demeaning conversations with questions such as, “Wow, did you wear that for me?” according to the suit. The partner also began asking Correa “repeatedly and persistently” to go out for dinner with him, the suit says. Correa says she finally acquiesced when he reframed his request as an invitation to a work dinner.
The March 2017 dinner was at Gaonnuri, an upscale Korean restaurant on the 39th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper. At the dinner, the lawyer told Correa to pull her chair closer to him and then demanded a kiss as she was leaving, the suit alleges. Correa pushed him away. “Plaintiff felt nauseous and feared that she would throw up,” the suit says.
The partner appeared to back off. In May 2017, Correa told the partner that she may have to take some time off while her mother was suffering from a serious illness. The partner indicated that time off was allowed and said he would also offer financial help if she asked for it, according to the suit.
When Correa asked for financial help, the partner gave her a loan of $500 via wire transfer and a check for $2,100, according to the suit. At their next meeting, the partner allegedly winked at Correa and said, “You know what you need? You need a sugar daddy.”
After that, the partner began making constant comments about Correa’s appearance, “and it was clear that he was no longer ‘behaving,’ ” the suit said. He also renewed the dinner invitations.
In October 2017, the partner had insisted that Correa attend a nonprofit fundraising event with him and then insisted that they share a taxi after the event. When they reached Correa’s stop, the partner hugged her and kissed her unexpectedly, the suit says. Correa was “outraged and humiliated” and made her feelings clear, according to the suit.
After the incident, the partner allegedly told Correa that human resources personnel were watching her attendance and performance, and he alone was trying to save her.
The partner then asked Correa out to dinner around December 2017 at the Wolfgang Steakhouse and Correa agreed, feeling that she had to remain in the partner’s good graces to keep her job, the suit says. The partner allegedly chose a dimly lit table and told Corrrea that he was looking for a friend who could attend Broadway shows, have dinners and go to clubs with him. The partner said he had helped such friends in the past, and he could help Correa in a similar way.
Correa says she told the partner that she was happy working for the partner, but she couldn’t accept his offer because she was “not that kind of woman.”
In a subsequent conversation, the partner made vulgar comments, Correa says. He also began micromanaging her work and deemed it not up to par.
At a subsequent restaurant lunch, the partner planted a kiss on Correa’s lips, the suit says. She excused herself, went to the bathroom and vomited, according to the suit.
Correa finally confided her situation to an associate, who said the partner was known for such conduct and she should report the allegations, the suit says. Correa did so, but she was so anxious that she was unable to attend a scheduled meeting with the human resources director. She instead sought psychological treatment.
Correa says she was constructively discharged from the firm. She sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as New York state and city laws.
A spokesperson for Troutman Sanders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Securities law, banking law, mergers & acquisitions and private equity investments
Specialties: Global Private Equity compliance
Locke Lord LLP
– Present 8 months
Greater New York City Area
Focused on representing financial services institutions, investment advisers and investment companies, public and private companies and investors in complex transactions and risk management. Regularly advises in fund formation, regulation and investment, investment adviser regulation, private placements, mergers and acquisitions, financing, rights and exchange offers, asset transactions, hostile takeovers and going-private transactions.
Troutman Sanders LLP
– 2 years 2 months
Greater New York City Area
Concentrates practice in financial services, private equity, corporate finance, and bank and investment adviser regulation.Extensive experience representing financial services institutions, investment advisers and investment companies, public and private companies and investors in complex transactions and risk management.
– 4 years 8 months
1251 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Practice focused on private equity, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, securities law and investment adviser regulation. Extensive expertise representing financial services institutions, underwriters, public and private companies and investors in complex transactions and risk management.
Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP
– 4 months
1301 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10019
Bank of America
Senior Vice President – Compliance Executive
– 5 years 6 months
Assistant General Counsel
– 3 years 1 month
Assistant General Counsel
– 3 years 1 month
Gerald Francese has an extensive corporate transactional and regulatory practice. Jerry focuses on the formation and representation of private investment funds including domestic and international venture, private equity and hedge funds. He also has extensive experience in financial services, corporate finance, and bank regulation. Jerry’s clients include some of the world’s largest financial services institutions, investment advisers and investment companies, public and private companies and investors.
He helps investment managers create investment products and platforms, including investment companies and separately managed accounts, and has structured and closed numerous seed and growth investments and platforms.
His fund clients’ expertise include specialties in alternative energy, commodities, construction finance, crypto-currencies, distressed debt, education, emerging markets, energy, FinTech, food, healthcare, hospitality, logistics, real estate and new opportunity zone, and travel funds.
Jerry advises global investors in alternative asset investment and structuring to achieve investment goals and minimize adverse tax consequences.
Jerry’s transactional practice includes mergers and acquisitions, both domestically and internationally, private placements, management buyouts, corporate finance, rights and exchange offers, asset transactions, and going-private transactions.
His regulatory experience includes bank regulation for investing activities, equity aggregation compliance, investment adviser and investment company regulation, and alternative trading platform development and operation. Jerry enjoys working on cutting edge legal issues related to securities offerings and trading.
Jerry previously served as in-house counsel and a compliance and risk executive at Bank of America. In that role, he assisted with several multibillion-dollar mergers and acquisitions, numerous business unit spin-offs and sales, investment adviser and investment company regulation, private equity and public securities acquisitions and dispositions, bank and insurance regulatory compliance, joint ventures and public offerings of debt and equity securities.
In addition, he served as compliance executive to the bank’s businesses that managed tens of billions of dollars in investments and portfolios and as chief compliance officer to registered investment advisers.
Jerry has overseen and managed teams responsible for legal and regulatory compliance of all aspects of investment management and investments domiciled in over 40 countries across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific. He advised on financial products, including custody, corporate governance and regulatory compliance.
Professional Affiliations and Recognitions
- Recognized by The Legal 500 United States for private equity
- Chair, Board of Directors, Barrier Free Living Family of Companies
- Member, Board of Trustees, Huntington’s Disease Society of America