Lawyer’s Online Ad Sought Legal Assistant That Provided “Benefits”
Posted in General on January 12, 2015
A lawyer in Chicago apparently tried to avoid a potential sexual harassment law suit by expressly advising applicants for a legal assistant position that sexual favors were expected a part of the assistant’s duties. The job was posted on Craigslist and stated that the assistant was responsible for secretarial tasks and “additional duties.” Applicants were asked to provide a resume, photos, a description of physical features, and body measurements.
While the request for photos and measurements was odd and probably startling for most, at least one woman responded to the post and believed that the attorney was seeking an attractive person to hold the position. After submitting her resume, photos, and measurements, she women received the following shocking response from the lawyer:
The lawyer, continuing to be up front with the applicant, advised that the upcoming interview would be grueling and vigorous as she would be required “to perform for us sexually.” The lawyer acknowledged that in the past he had not required the applicants to perform sexual acts during the interview and only discovered later that the assistant was uncomfortable. The lawyer wanted to make sure that the assistant could was tested under fire before being handed the lucrative position.
Avoided Sexual Harassment Suit But Incurred Wrath of Disciplinary Board
Everyone wants to know – what happened to this attorney? While advance notice to the prospective applicant that sex was required as part of the position avoided a possible sexual harassment lawsuit, the sexual requests landed the lawyer in hot water with the state lawyer ethical board. The woman filed a complaint with the attorney disciplinary board, and the board commenced an investigation. The attorney initially sent a letter to the board, denied sending the email to the applicant, and claimed that his email had been hacked. The lawyer later conceded that he was in fact the author of the email. Possibly knowing that he had no defense, the lawyer failed to appear at the hearing before the ethical board.
The lawyer’s attempts to hire a sexual assistant was not unethical per se, but the Illinois Bar felt that the conduct did bring the legal profession into disrepute. Most states have ethical rules that prevent a lawyer from having a sexual relationship with a current client, but the rules do not prohibit sexual contact between a lawyer and his staff. While the lawyer was not charged with any criminal offense, had this occurred in Pennsylvania, I believe that he could have been charged with attempted solicitation. Attempted solicitation prohibits a person from soliciting or request that someone commit an illegal act, such as prostitution.
Amusingly, the lawyer was using 21st century technology to hire someone involved in the world’s oldest profession.