National News

Ashley Madison goes after ex-employee

By Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

TORONTO - A dating website for married people seeking affairs has slapped an ex-employee with a countersuit after she accused the company of making her type up hundreds of fake profiles of sexy women.

Ashley Madison is countersuing Doriana Silva on allegations she kept confidential documents, including copies of her "work product and training materials."

The countersuit is filed by Ashley Madison's parent company, Avid Life Media, and seeks to recover the documents as well as $100,000 in damages plus legal costs.

In her statement of defence, Silva says she held on to copies of the fake profiles she created and documents "related to the creation" of those profiles, but denies they are the property of her former employer.

A spokesman for the company says the documents are related to "quality assurance testing" and include profiles created to test the new Brazilian version of the site for "consistency and reliability."

Neither party's claims have been proven in court.

Silva argues she kept copies of her work and training materials and turned them over to her lawyer to use as evidence in trial.

"It was reasonable for Doriana to take steps to preserve the aforementioned documents and others given that Ashley Madison has denied both publicly and in these proceedings that such materials exist at all," the document reads.

Ashley Madison has said that what Silva typed is irrelevant and any allegations of ethical breaches are simply an attempt to make the company look bad.

It previously petitioned the court to strike references to "ethics'' and "unethical practices'' from the statement of claim, but a judge found the references necessary to describe "the factual context in which the injuries were sustained."

The legal battle began when Silva — a Brazilian immigrant living in Toronto — sued Ashley Madison, saying she had damaged her wrists and forearms typing up 1,000 "fake female profiles" for a new Portuguese-language version of the site.

The profiles didn't represent actual members of the site or any real people, but were meant to "entice paying heterosexual male members to join and spend money on the website," she alleges in her suit.

She was led to believe it was a normal practice in the industry, but would have turned down the assignment had she been aware of the "ethical and legal issues" at play, the claim says.

The amount of typing required to complete the work in the three weeks allotted caused injuries that made it impossible for Silva to do her job and she has been unable to work since 2011, the document says.

Silva also alleges company brass ignored her complaints.

She is seeking $20 million for what she calls the company's "unjust enrichment'' at her expense.

Ashley Madison disputes the allegations.

In its statement of defence, the company says Silva waited until the day after her probation period ended in June 2011 to mention her purported injuries, then took more than six months off as she sought treatment in Brazil.

Her leave was initially expected to last only three weeks, but Silva continued to extend it, citing the advice of various specialists, the statement says.

Management proved supportive throughout, and told Silva the company would hold a position for her until she returned, the document says.

In January 2012, Ashley Madison received a letter from Silva's lawyer saying she couldn't go back to work until June, it says.

The letter also requested a "large lump sum payment" to make up for the wages Silva lost during her leave, as well as a weekly payment "nearly triple her gross salary" until she received medical clearance to return, the company alleges.

It says Silva filed the suit when her demands went unmet, and has since "led a very active, carefree and fulfilling life," which the company says would not be possible if she were truly injured.

"Ms. Silva has made repeated visits to various beaches (both domestic and foreign) where, among other things, she has participated in many physical activities including but not limited to jet-skiing," the statement reads.

"Additionally, despite the allegation that Ms. Silva remains unable to keyboard, Ms. Silva has maintained a very active presence on the Internet," by emailing friends and family, updating her Facebook account and participating in other social media, the document says.

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