November 12, 2013 - 4:58 AM
TORONTO - A dating website for married people seeking affairs is dismissing a $20-million lawsuit as nothing but a "frivolous" claim by an "opportunistic" ex-employee.
Ashley Madison has issued a statement condemning the suit filed by Doriana Silva, who alleges she permanently damaged her wrists typing up fake profiles of women for the site.
In the statement, the company says Silva is exaggerating her injuries in order to support demands for compensation that the company said escalated over time.
The company says it will not give in to what it termed "extortion." It alleged Silva threatened to go to the press if her demands weren't met.
But Silva's lawyer, Paul Dollak, denied the extortion allegation.
"There was never any threat of doing anything other than starting a lawsuit, which one is lawfully entitled to do," he said in an email.
Silva said in her claim that she was asked to create 1,000 phoney profiles to lure men into signing up.
Silva, a Brazilian immigrant living in Toronto, alleges she was given three weeks to complete the work for a new Brazilian Ashley Madison site.
She says the "enormous amount" of typing strained her wrists but her complaints were ignored by the company.
The allegations have not been proven in court and Ashley Madison has not filed a statement of defence.
The company said Monday it had arranged at the time to have Silva evaluated and that an independent insurance auditor refused her claim.
Two separate medical professionals also met with Silva and prescribed "nothing more than rest," which the company was willing to allow, it said in the statement.
"Throughout this lawsuit, Ms. Silva appears to have continued to lead an active life and has shown no side effects from her so-called injury," the company said.
It alleges Silva posted photos on social media sites that show her on "multiple vacations around the world" and "enjoying herself on a jet ski" — which it calls an "unlikely activity" for someone with damaged wrists.
Dollak said his client is "alarmed" that Ashley Madison appears to have accessed her Facebook account without her permission and after she stopped working for the company.
The photos, he said, "have nothing at all to do with her ability to keyboard or ongoing injuries."
He argued Silva had no other recourse but to sue since Ashley Madison refused to compensate her for her injuries and she wasn't eligible for worker's compensation.
In her claim, Silva says no one at the company suggested there was anything “unlawful or improper” about the alleged fake profiles, adding she was led to believe they were commonplace.
Otherwise, she would have turned down the work and avoided injury, she says in the document.
While compensation for personal injuries is usually calculated based on how much that person has suffered, Silva is seeking a share of the money earned through the profiles she created, Dollak has said.
On its website, Ashley Madison says it does not pre-screen members and can’t “guarantee the authenticity of any profile,” warning that “anyone who is able to commit identity theft can also falsify a dating profile.”
News from © The Canadian Press, 2013