Lawyer sues former partner over compensation, sexual harassment

Kelly Holleran Aug. 4, 2009, 11:25am

A local attorney claims a St. Louis lawyer and his law firm sexually discriminated against her when they allegedly refused to pay her about $300,000 in promised compensation in exchange for work she performed as a partner in the firm.

Deborah S. Greider filed a lawsuit July 31 in St. Louis Circuit Court against the Law Offices of Thomas E. Kennedy III and Thomas E. Kennedy III of St. Louis. The firm also has an office in Alton, where Greider alleges she was first injured.

She claims Kennedy hired her to work as an attorney at his firm in August 2001.

In August 2003, Greider entered into an oral agreement with the firm and Kennedy in which she was to receive $52,000 of the first $107,000 in net profits of the firm, then an additional 40 percent of the remaining net profits of the firm, according to the complaint.
Later, in mid-2004, the terms of the agreement were changed, and Greider was to receive $60,000 of the first $120,000 in net profits of the firm, then 40 percent of the remaining net profits, the suit states.

However, Kennedy and his firm failed to pay the promised money to Greider, the complaint says.

"After the defendants, and each of them, entered into the oral partnership agreement with plaintiff Deborah S. Greider, and after the defendants, and each of them failed and refused to compensate plaintiff by paying her 40% of the net profits of the firm remaining after payment of the amended base allocation, and/or by refusing to pay her the amended base allocation and any other percentage of net profits, thereby breaching the oral partnership agreement, plaintiff Deborah S. Greider demanded that the partnership agreement be honored, and reduced to writing, and also demanded that the defendants, and each of them, provide her with access to the defendants' financial books and accounts and tax returns," Greider wrote in her complaint.

But, according to the complaint, Kennedy and his firm refused to comply with Greider's requests and instead began to threaten, slander, insult and berate her with the intent to cause her emotional distress.

"The aforesaid course of conduct, which began in 2006 and continued into the year 2009, was done intentionally, with the specific intent to humiliate plaintiff, and cause her severe emotional distress, and was and is so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of human decency, and must be regarded as atrocious and intolerable in a civilized society," the suit states. "The conduct of the defendants, and each of them, constitutes sexual discrimination and sexual harassment."

In the three-count suit, Greider is seeking a judgment of $75,000 and unspecified punitive damages, plus costs.

Paul J. Passanante and Kate M. Jilka of Paul J. Passanante and Associates in St. Louis will be representing her.

St. Louis Circuit Court case number: 0922-cc08669.

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