My Toughest Case: Helping companies handle, and preferably avoid, sexual harrassment cases in the #metoo era
Monique Gougisha Doucette
Labor and Employment Law
Shareholder, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
16 years in practice
B.S. Loyola University
J.D. Tulane University Law School
With high-profile cases of sexual harassment making headlines recently, labor and employment attorney Monique Gougisha Doucette is a very busy woman.
“[My specialty is] labor and employment law, with a focus on workplace misconduct and sexual harassment issues,” she says. “For most of my career, my practice has primarily involved litigating cases with discrimination, harassment and whistleblower claims. Over the last few years, though, my practice has seen a sharp increase in workplace advising such as anti-harassment trainings, internal investigations and policy/cultural assessments. Of course, the #metoo movement created a surge in my training and employment advising.”
For Doucette, cases involving employees who engage in inappropriate behavior have become the toughest cases she takes on, with the impact felt not only by the individuals involved, but also by the company at large.
“Over the years, my toughest challenge has not been one specific case, but it has been one particular fact pattern,” she said. “[These] cases involve a company that has good intentions and promotes a respectful workplace, but then a rogue employee engages in abhorrent conduct, which sends everything into a tailspin with nasty litigation. Litigating sexual harassment cases is always challenging, but it is even more so when an employer has tried to do the right thing but still suffers financial and reputational harm when an employee willfully violates its policies.”
In an effort to stop a problem before it starts, Doucette offers dedicated consultations, policies and procedures for a wide variety of work environments.
“I’ve learned that this job is not just about defending lawsuits,” Doucette said. “I firmly believe that I can serve as both a management-side lawyer and a supporter of the #metoo movement, as these are not mutually exclusive concepts. I also assist my clients with their trainings and internal investigations. I advocate for robust policies addressing behavioral standards and accountability. Essentially, I approach my role as an employment lawyer from a big picture perspective and as a proactive advisor helping employers shape their workplace culture.”
New Orleans-born, Doucette follows in the footsteps of her father, who also graduated from Tulane Law School and moved her family to Washington, D.C., to pursue a career in the Senate. It was her father’s passion that taught Doucette a love for the law, although that love briefly moved her away from her hometown, a point her childhood friends never let her forget.
“I always say that I am a New Orleans native with an asterisk because I did not graduate from high school in New Orleans,” she says. “Watching my parents relocate our family to pursue advancement in their respective careers taught me very valuable lessons, including not settling in your career and the importance of investing in yourself professionally.”