BOSTON (CN) – A former litigation associate at Bingham McCutchen claims she was slipped a date-rape drug at the Boston law firm’s holiday party in December 2007. She claims that at least one other female associate was drugged and raped by a Bingham employee the previous year.
In a lawsuit filed in Suffolk County Court, M.M. says she attended the holiday lunch party at Lucia Ristorante & Bar in the North End of Boston with about 100 other Bingham employees, but remembers little of the afternoon beyond receiving a second glass of wine.
M.M. says she wound up in the emergency room later that evening, and a blood test revealed traces of the anti-seizure medication Tegretol in her system. When combined with alcohol, Tegretol can result in memory loss.
The following Monday, M.M. says she reported the incident to a more senior female associate, who revealed that she’d been drugged and raped by a Bingham employee the year prior. The senior associate had allegedly reported the incident to police, but said she had kept it from the firm “for fear that [it] would jeopardize her prospects of promotion at the firm.”
Despite reporting the incident to multiple people, M.M. says Bingham failed to investigate or issue a warning about the drugging incident.
At a work dinner about a month later, M.M. says she was “stunned and overwhelmed” when she heard a litigation technology support person, identified only as J.B., explain how he enjoyed having sex with unconscious women and that he knew how to get “roofies,” slang for the date-rape drug Rohypnol.
M.M. says other employees told her that J.B. had attended the holiday party where she’d been drugged and had been seen talking to her, although she has no memory of the alleged interaction. M.M. also learned that J.B. had asked for money to buy “an eight-ball” (the street term for a certain amount of cocaine or methamphetamine), left the party to buy drugs, came back and did drugs at the holiday party, according to the complaint.
M.M. claims she “felt incredibly upset, scared and violated,” and cried during the cab ride home. She “remained extremely uncomfortable working in close proximity with the man she believed may have drugged her and meant to sexually assault her,” the lawsuit states.
She allegedly urged the firm to warn employees about the drugging incident, because she feared J.B. might try to drug and assault her or another woman at the next holiday party. Instead, M.M. was simply given the option of moving her office – three doors down from J.B.’s – to another floor, she says.
M.M. claims Bingham’s failure to act drove her to take a lower-paying job with her former employer. After she quit, M.M. allegedly heard that J.B. no longer worked for Bingham. And it wasn’t until M.M. resigned that the firm notified other employees about the drugging incident, she says.
M.M. also filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which allegedly prompted the firm to retaliate by telling employees that M.M. was lying and that they shouldn’t speak to her.
The plaintiff demands actual and punitive damages for discrimination, sexual harassment, constructive discharge and retaliation.
Her attorney is Inga Bernstein with Zalkind Rodriguez.