Four more women have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Richard Meier, adding to the five who already came forward in a March 13 report by The New York Times. All four are former employees of the firm, one of whom told the paper that she reached a settlement with the company for $25,000 in 1992 after Meier threw himself on top of her.
Beyond a recounting of their experiences with Meier in the office and at his Upper East Side home, the latest news focuses on the firm itself and a culture where, according to many employees, Meier’s behavior towards women was an open secret that no one took any action to address.
Responding to the earlier allegations, Richard Meier announced a six-month leave from the office and released an apology prefaced by the words, “While our recollections may differ,” which some readers called a non-apology.
The firm’s latest statement to the Times similarly avoided directly engaging with the allegations, instead distancing them as decade-old, “personal” allegations that should not sully the reputation of the firm:
“The allegations involving Richard Meier, the most recent of which were nearly a decade old, do not reflect the ethos and culture of the firm, and it would be irresponsible to allow these personal allegations to tarnish the company.”
But it is the firm’s senior management who really takes the cake in demonstrating how the firm may have viewed Meier’s alleged misconduct.
A senior associate who was with the firm for 20 years, and who was told about Meier’s inappropriate touching of an employee by the woman herself, admitted to the Times,
“It’s not something that was a secret.”
In response to the allegations, Robert Gatje, one of Meier’s former partners, stated:
“That was 25 years ago. Things were a lot different back then.”
A former partner, Gunter R. Standke, who worked at the firm for 12 years and told the paper he knew Meier “was attracted to young women” and invited them to leave the office with him at the end of the workday, explained his inaction to the Times:
“I had all the European projects…I had no time to watch what Mr. Meier was doing.”