The Allen & Overy (A&O) senior associate who was sacked for gross misconduct after publishing an erotic novel online has vowed to take legal action against the firm.
Deidre Dare was sacked without notice from the firm’s Moscow office on Friday several weeks after the firm stopped her from publishing further instalments of her erotic novel, Expat: A Weekly Serialized Novel About Living in Moscow (TheLawyer.com, 2 February).
Dare said she now plans to take action against the firm, adding: “I’ll appeal [the sacking]… I think it was extremely heavy handed.”
Dare has instructed Fox Williams employment partner Mark Watson to represent her, although she is still deciding whether to take the claim forward in a UK employment tribunal, in the US courts or in Russia, after exhausting the internal appeals process.
She said that she had first posted chapters of her serialised novel on her website around three to four months ago.
In mid December last year, Dare brought an internal grievance procedure for sexual harassment against the firm over the alleged misconduct of a Moscow partner.
She said that the firm’s London HR department then instituted disciplinary proceedings against her because of her website. She claims that this proceeding was started in retaliation to her sexual harassment claim.
A statement from A&O said: “After we became formally aware of Ms Dare’s website and started to consider the firm’s response, she filed a grievance which was fully investigated in accordance with our standard policies and found to be groundless, although she has appealed against the decision.”
While the first names of several characters in Dare’s novel are the same as those of A&O colleagues, she told The Lawyer that everything she had written was entirely fictitious.
“It was just a fun little homage,” she said. “Nobody was taking it seriously. One of the characters named Tim is a divorced older man – the real Tim is 23 years old.”
Dare added that her website had been visited over a million times since the story hit the press. Her homepage contains poetry, 11 chapters of her novel and several risqué pictures.
Dare will now write a column entitled “Sexpat” for the local expatriate weekly paper Moscow News. Her Russian visa is set to expire soon due to the termination of her employment and she will have to re-enter the country on a business visa this month.
She has also engaged an agent with a view to finishing her serialised novel, new instalments of which she had put on hold since the disciplinary procedure started.
A statement from A&O said: “Following our normal disciplinary process, we found that Ms Dare’s behaviour – in publishing the material she did in the professional name under which she practises, and the way that she has responded to a number of reasonable requests from us since – was unacceptable and totally at odds with the standards of behaviour that we expect from all of our people.
“We have therefore terminated her employment.”