SHORT SHORT FICTION by Jane Genova
A Uriah Heep type player she excelled in the role of subordinate to the powerful. And, to the powerful she displayed great deference. When feeling excessively insecure she was even heard to say, "I know my place." Where she assessed she could get away with it, particularly if there were no witnesses, she bullied, mercilessly. Had the brass assigned her that task of keeping the rank and file in the law firm brow-beaten? Any student of office games would vote "no." This was something she intuited could enhance her performance, at least in the eyes of the equity partners.
For years, she was right on that one. It helped that she wasn't attractive, not even in that brittle Manhattan way. No one would impute her success to sex. Shrewdly, she married in her late 30s and quickly had two children. That encapsulated her aura as The Assistant, nothing more. No equity partner, no client, no prospect was going to be seduced by her or her by them.
When the firm's fortunes went into reversal in the fall of 2008, The Assistant wasn't in angst, like many others in the office. In addition to keep running things smoothly, she knew way too much. The blow came from left field. Those associates and staff laid off filed a class action lawsuit against her and the firm as co-defendants. She for her abusiveness resulting in great harm to their physical and mental health. The firm for allowing it, despite, it turned out, being informed in writing multiple times about her behavior.
The plaintiffs had nothing to lose. They went for the whole enchilada. If she was allegedly abusive in the office, it could be equally allegedly likely she was also that way with her children. Children's services in Connecticut conducted an investigation.
The lawsuit will probably be in limbo. Atypical for females, she hung herself. "There has been a growing number of suicides in the legal profession," a Manhattan tabloid observed. It had a sidebar on statistics which broke down suicide method, gender, age, and socioeconomic class.