Cleveland Attorney Howard E. Skolnick Suspended for Calling Paralegal a 'Ho'

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click to enlarge Howard E. Skolnick (L) as seen on the side of a RTA bus - Courtesy of My Local Services
Courtesy of My Local Services
Howard E. Skolnick (L) as seen on the side of a RTA bus

The Ohio Supreme Court suspended the law license of Cleveland attorney Howard E. Skolnick today after he was recorded calling his paralegal offensive names and berating her.

According to court documents, Skolnick made sexual comments toward the paralegal, made disparaging comments about her husband and mother, as well as referred to her as a "dirtbag" and a "ho." The paralegal had recorded Skolnick's comments on more than 30 occasions.

The paralegal reported she suffered from anxiety, sleep disturbances, depression and poor body image from Skolnick's constant harassment and establishment of a hostile work environment.

Skolnick did not deny the claims and settled with her for $300,000. He informed the court he has since hired a human resources manager to examine the firm's sexual harassment policies and dialed back his oversight of the office.

Skolnick did however try to defend himself by claiming he had learned the slang from rappers and hip-hop artists while working in entertainment law. He claimed his comments were meant to be humorous and not hurtful.

Skolnick also cited his diagnosis with the mood altering cyclothymic disorder as well as symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder as motives for his behavior, which the court found as believable as Ambien causing racism.

The Board of Professional Conduct in Ohio had recommended a six-month suspension, with all of it stayed, but high court's justices said Skolnick's pervasive attacks called for a more severe sentence "to protect the public and the dignity of the legal system" and to use Skolnick as an example for how other attorneys will be punished for similar misconduct.

The court imposed a one-year sentence, with six months stayed.

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