Hypocrisy, thy name may be Epstein, Becker & Green (EBG), if a recently filed lawsuit’s charges are proven to be true.
EBG is a leading law firm with offices across the United States. They bill clients millions of $$$ to train and implement practices that “halt harassment” in the workplace. But in an explosive lawsuit filed (you can review the Sadler lawsuit HERE) by former employee Hannah Sadler, it shows that EBG may have audaciously and recklessly avoided its own counsel in numerous ways–in fact, if proven, the firm appears to have made an art form out of making harassers, not harassment, disappear.
A recent EBG video about their hands-on approach to harassment can be found here
The allegations are disturbing and include:
- Sadler, almost immediately upon winning two company-wide awards, became a harassment target of those she reported to.
- One of her harassers, both verbally and sexually, was the practice leader for EBG’s sexual harassment prevention services to other companies
- Another abuser forced the departures of 14 other employees who were forced to resign or were terminated
- The firm concocted a sham performance review and a performance-art styled (PIP) performance improvement plan filled with unachievable goals designed to lead to only one thing: dismissal.
- Board members were complicit. Is it possible that all Firm board members and senior partners were oblivious to the harassment?
- spitting, groping, and invasion of personal space abuse by those Ms. Sadler reported to or held positions of power
The allegations are shocking and will soon be played out in court with the laundry list of defendants, depositions, and drama you would expect from a case with this portrayal of “high slime and misbehaviors.”
Does EBG have the wrong type of experience with sexual harassment? Has the fox been guarding the henhouse?
More EBG Headaches to Come?
But if will feature one more, no make that two more, aspects that may make EBG nervous: numerous former EBG employees are expected to testify.
Additionally, there is the PR awkwardness that comes with a glitzy October 4th award presentation by the New York Law Journal to EBG for legal innovation in, among other things, eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace. Will lawsuit defendants appear and be photographed receiving this award? Stay tuned!
What to Watch
What captures my attention more than anything in this case are two things:
- the potential finding that a firm providing expertise in preventing sexual harassment and workplace abuse was engaging it and covering it up
- a young woman who shows no fear of taking on a major, $200 million in annual revenue law firm and fighting for her reputation, career, and future…and simply for what is right.
- What will the New York Law Journal do regarding the award when, in full knowledge of the Sadler lawsuit, they appear ready to present the award to EBG? Will they report on this lawsuit? Are they tainted by ignoring the lawsuit and not seeking facts because they feared angering a long-standing law firm that enhances their revenue streams?
Note: I reached out to both EBG and NYLJ for comment. NYLJ did not respond. EBG did respond but refused to speak on the active lawsuit.
You can read the Sadler v. Epstein, Becker & Green, et al lawsuit by clicking HERE
Below is a Sadler release from earlier in the week:
Leading Law Firm in Sexual Harassment Prevention Hit with Blockbuster Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Epstein, Becker, and Green, CEO Steven Epstein and its Board of Directors Sued in D.C. Superior Court
One of America’s top law firms in instructing the health care industry and other companies in “Halting Harassment” in the workplace—Epstein, Becker, and Green (“EBG”) – should have considered following its own consulting and sexual harassment training presented to its clients, according to a recently filed lawsuit against the firm.
In the explosive lawsuit filed in the D.C. Superior Court on September 14th 2023, EBG’s top leadership–including its CEO Steven Epstein, its Board of Directors, and several of the senior partners in the firm—are accused of intentionally and repeatedly abusing former employee Hannah Sadler, and punishing her, as well as other previous victims, for filing sexual harassment and hostile workplace complaints to senior EBG management.
EBG is the eighth largest law firm in the nation specializing in the health care field with over 300 lawyers and $227,000,000 million dollars in revenue in 2022. EBG profits from providing the healthcare industry, and others, with consulting and legal services to address and prevent hostility and sexual harassment in the workplace.
According to the lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court on September 14th, 2023, “the pot is calling the kettle black” when it comes to the workplace culture at the Epstein Becker and Green’s Washington D.C. Office. Ms. Sadler’s lawsuit alleges that sexual harassment, sexual assault, and repeated hostile workplace conduct towards her, and other women, are commonplace and a business-as-usual method of operation at EBG.
Ms. Sadler’s lawsuit claims that her boss, Mr. James Areklett, Senior Partner Clifford Barnes, and former United States Attorney General Stuart Gerson in the Clinton administration, intentionally and repeatedly abused her over an extended period. When Ms. Sadler, who had received two Values Champion Awards from support staff, reported these incidents to senior management, she was allegedly fired in retaliation.
The lawsuit alleges that when women complain about being sexually harassed and assaulted through channels mandated by EBG, their complaints are covered up and buried as company policy, with its CEO Steven Epstein and the Board of Directors of EBG complicit. The lawsuit alleges that when women complain, they are fired by using false work performance reviews and performance improvement plans as tools to wrongfully terminate female employees who file complaints about abuse and harassment.
These serious allegations have affected not only EBG’s reputation but may also inflict damage to those connected to the firm. The New York Law Journal (NYLJ) is presenting an award to EBG CEO Steven Epstein on Wednesday, October 4th, 2023, in part for EBG’s Halting Harassment initiatives against sexual harassment. The optics of EBG receiving an award for innovation in sexual harassment prevention while EBG faces sexual harassment and hostile workplace abuse, termination, and cover-up allegations, is dramatic.
Prior to the release of this publication, Epstein, Becker and Green as well as the New York Law Journal were contacted for comments. An EBG spokesperson responded, stating, “As this is now an ongoing legal matter, we will reserve further comment.”
The New York Law Journal did not respond to repeated requests for comments.
Additional EBG resources on sexual harassment for your viewing pleasure and blood pressure spikes include:
Pete Havel is a consultant, speaker, leadership and workplace culture trainer, and author of “The Arsonist in the Office: Fireproofing Your Life Against Toxic Coworkers, Bosses, Employees, and Cultures. He is President of his consulting firm, Fireproofed Leadership. You can read more about Havel at http://www.fireproofedleadership.com or reach out to him at email@example.com or 214.244.7906