Former Proskauer Rose CFO Says She Was Demoted After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — It’s bad enough being diagnosed with breast cancer, but can you imagine losing your job because of it?

That’s what one high-ranking executive said happened to her and now she’s suing a prominent New York law firm.

Elly Rosenthal is doing something she never expected to do — sue the law firm where she worked for 18 years. She told CBS 2’s John Slattery that is was “demoralizing and sad that my career there would end like this.”

The 57-year-old certified public accountant was the Chief Financial Officer at the law firm Proskauer Rose. It is one of the larger firms in the city, specializing in employment law and employment discrimination, which is what Rosenthal is now charging.

Rosenthal said that her case constituted “gender, age and perceived disability discrimination.”

Following breast cancer surgery three years ago, Rosenthal took a three-month leave. After that, she said, she was demoted with a salary cut.

Rosenthal said the firm “cut me out of certain communications, certain events that were taking place in the firm — I was not a part of. I was starting to be marginalized,” she said.

Rosenthal said after her recovery, she was fully capable of performing the duties she had done for nearly two decades. A spokesman for Proskauer Rose said the firm had “no comment” on the lawsuit.

A firm that has made its name defending employers in discrimination suits now finds itself on the receiving end of such a suit, filed by one of its own.

Rosenthal is seeking $10 million in damages.

What is your reaction to this lawsuit?  Share your thoughts in the comments section…

More from John Slattery
  • Ethernet

    She worked for a firm that defended against what she is alleging for them to have done?
    Ok, there is OBVIOUSLY something more going on here than what she is telling us. Use some common sense people LOL!

  • Fritz

    Am lucky to be a cancer survivor and was out of work for 1.5 years. My firm welcomed me back on MY TERMS (temporarily shortened hours) yet I still get bonus and full benefits. My years continued to count up as well. Strange, hey? Lucky me!

  • cin

    Regardless of the type of person she is, the fact is she is a human being with an illness. An illness does not pick or choose who you are, it doesn’t care. Corporations are like illnesses except they choose with whom to promote or fire, but the bottom line is they don’t care. An employee is just another burden on the company. I hope she wins her lawsuit. As far as Dave’s comment, he is probably doing the wisest thing, because if he is a current employee and a lawsuit is being filed he has to be very discreet with his comments.

  • Susan

    I am a 26 year breast cancer surivor and even back then companies treated people with illnesses like dogs. I was working for a large tire manufactor. They tried first to accuse me of waiting to my insurance kicked in before having cancer surgery. Trust me you do not wait, you want the cancer out now. I was told I was going to go through 6 months of chemotheraphy and then 35 radiation treatments, which I did complete. But the doctors were declaring me fit to return to my position as an administrative assistant, but the company thought I would not be able to do my job during my treatments. I did not sue but I was paid full salary for six months, all of medical bills, for two years and the best part was the company is now gone, they went bankrupt. What goes around comes around.

  • Mary

    if it had been a man’s balls he would have gotten promoted! Not surprised at all.

  • Paul Pascuzzi

    Employee gets let go for being sick. Nothing new in American jobs there, it happens all the time.

  • KET

    bxgirl: Are you kidding me? You don’t know this woman, but think she got what she deserved because you are “sure she was a bitch” to everyone who worked there? Wow. You DID notice that she wasn’t an attorney, right? I hope you enjoy your low-level job, because with that kind of logic, you’ll never get out of it. And, astounding that someone (Janice) would actually agree with you.

    • mary

      too bad you are “slandering this woman” where everyone can see. I hope she sues you too. You sound like a jealous employee because you didn’t have the guts to do more for yourself.

  • Caleb

    “Sais”? Are you f-ing kidding me? One of those words spell check wouldn’t catch, but someone that learned how to spell would. And you should have used “suing” in: “Elly Rosenthal is doing something she never expected to do — sue the law firm where she worked for 18 years.” Computer don’t tell you that either.

  • Quennsxiut

    I totally agree in saying that Proskauer is one of the worst place to work.

  • srtayl

    Happened to me 2 years ago. Was let go during the second week of recovery following a multiple-level spinal fusion of the neck. Same marginalization by way of cut-off to communications, meeting minutes, and operational decisions. Ended a 20 year career.

  • Rob

    I don’t have to imagine it, it happened to my wife. An RN for 27 years, she was diagnosed with Primary Peritoneal Cancer. She was off work for six months. She endured debulking surgery and two rounds of chemotherapy. They subsequently terminated her but she won her job back through her union’s (SEIU) grievance procedure, with back pay. Unions and Union Members WORK!

    • Dee

      That is the first time I have heard of a union doing something that made it worth having. I am a huge opponent, but I am glad she got what was fair.

      • Vicki Dissmore Daum

        My Wife was attacked by a student in a small town school in Wisconsin, (Lake Mills) and the school officials did nothing to help her and were upset that she, in her frustration, went to the police. Her teachers union stepped in and helped her. So there is another example of a union helping a member out. Now you have heard of two such cases! Unions can and do often work hard to help their members.

  • Rinner

    Apparently proofreading is a lost art.

    • G. Orwell

      Really, “sais”? If you want to be taken seriously, at least use spell check. It is a painful story, and writers owe it to their subjects and their readers to have their articles proofread.

      • srtayl

        So, grammar is more important than the issue or topic? I think not. Who cares as long as the issue is discussed, really.

        • Coriolana Sinta

          Those of us who care about the language and have an education care. No one said it was more important, you pompous little toad!

          • dougeducate

            Hilarious! You criticize someone of being pompous, right after you brag about caring about language and have an education. Then, you call the person a childish name. Guess what Coriolana. Education does not stop at Grade 6, I suggest you stay in school.

    • nkg0515

      You saw the mistake too huh?

  • Dave Miller

    Well, I worked at Proskauer for 13 years, and I really can’t comment on what sort of place it was to work at, but Elly Rosenthal was invariably pleasant to work with. I’m very sorry that both of these terrible things happened to her.

    • Les

      If you worked there for 132 yrs., I would think you are more qualified to comment on work conditions and employment policies. Why do think that your work experience at this company forbids you to share?

      • Ethernet

        2 Words, Dave has Loyalty, and Intergrity.
        Obviously your not familar with their meaning. Look them up, its not hard. You don’t even have to use one of those hard book thingies. Just go to dictionary . com

  • ksboy

    This firm is known as one of the worst law firms in business. We went through a recent negotiation process with this firm on the opposing side, and the lawyers were a-holes. They do not have any decency for human values and all they care about is the money – I think they were also the firm in the recent NFL strike. She was the erstwhile CFO of this trashed-up firm and although her story is sad, I guess what goes around comes around.

  • bxgirl

    Not suprised at all, I worked at this firm for only 1 year and this was probably the worst place to work. Ever attorney that worked there were complete aholes. Karma is a bitch because I am sure she was a bitch to all of the paralegals and secretaries that worked there. Sorry but I can’t feel sorry for this woman.

    • Janice

      Me neither.

    • Socal

      She was the CFO and a CPA, not an attorney.

    • Alix Morehouse

      Wow, how hateful. Sad for you.

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