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3 Lessons From the Dentons Sexual Harassment Scandal

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

The way things went down at Dentons, #MeToo may soon be a term in Black's Law Dictionary.

A business specialist has sued the law firm, alleging a supervisor sexually harassed her. The plaintiff says a managing director propositioned her with vulgar language, touched her legs and buttocks, and pursued her after hours.

In the #MeToo era, it's unfortunate that BigLaw is part of the sexual harassment problem. America has been calling out the legal system, and the rules should be clear by now.

Rule No. 1: Don't Talk

Krunali Parekh says she was "was repeatedly treated like nothing other than a sexual object" by Alton Delane, director of Dentons' venture technology group. The firm has reportedly placed Delane on leave pending an investigation.

Whatever the outcome, the upshot is that you don't talk to co-workers about sex. That includes dirty jokes, for those who don't know the difference.

Rule No. 2: Don't Touch

Is the line between sexual harassment and innocent interaction really that blurry? How about this: don't touch other people unless it's to shake their hand or to administer CPR.

A hand on a shoulder, back, or elsewhere could be an invitation to trouble. Save your pats on the back for the sports field or where it's appreciated.

Rule No. 3: Don't Bother

In the Dentons case, the director will probably go down around his phone calls. Records say a lot more than he-said, she-said.

For everybody's protection, don't call, text, or email colleagues after work unless it's approved for business reasons. One late-night communication can easily turn into smoking gun evidence of harassment.

In her lawsuit, Parekh says she complained to human resources and others but they basically swept her complaints under the rug. It might have been different, she suggested, if the firm had more women in charge.

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