New York City Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Alleges “Boys’ Club” Culture at Financial Firm

While sexual harassment can and does occur in every kind of workplace in the country, certain industries have developed a reputation for harassment based on employees’ gender. Most New York City sexual harassment attorneys have probably represented individuals who experienced sexual harassment in the financial sector. Wall Street is often described as a “boys’ club,” and a lawsuit filed in late 2020 uses that exact term to describe the defendant employer’s work environment. The plaintiff alleges inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature in the workplace, as well as harassment that, while not overtly sexual, targeted her on the basis of her gender. She further claims that the defendant fired her in retaliation for opposing the alleged harassment. The lawsuit asserts claims for gender discrimination and retaliation in violation of city and state law.

Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination under city, state, and federal law. This includes unwelcome conduct based on sex that is so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment. This could be explicitly sexual behavior, such as an office culture that allows bawdy jokes and other inappropriate banter. It could involve more invasive harassment, such as sexual overtures, unwanted physical contact, or worse. It can also consist of hostility that is not inherently prurient, such as negative remarks about women’s ability to do certain jobs. All of these examples could occur anywhere, but they can be especially pronounced in workplaces that have traditionally been dominated by men.

The plaintiff began working for an investment bank in Manhattan in 2019, shortly after graduating from college. She states that she met the firm’s then-managing director during her senior year, and claims that he essentially recruited her to come work for him and offered to be her mentor. She alleges that he described the job as “a new business development role,” but that it “morphed into an administrative position” with relatively low pay. She further alleges that, shortly after she started working for the defendant, she “observed two high-level women…discriminated against and pushed out of the firm.”

The complaint describes multiple incidents and patterns of alleged harassment based on gender, both directed at the plaintiff and at women in general. The plaintiff alleges that, after the “two high-level women” left, the managing director began directing his “misogynistic and predatory behavior” at her. She also recounts alleged harassment by the CEO and founder and other individuals in leadership positions.

The alleged retaliation began after she started discussing the work environment with others. The plaintiff claims that the CEO made it clear that she could not continue with the firm unless she learned to tolerate the managing director’s behavior. He allegedly instructed her not to discuss her concerns about the work environment with anyone else. This arguably violates labor statutes like National Labor Relations Act, as noted in the complaint. The firm terminated her employment on the ground that she violated the order not to discuss her complaints with other employees.

She filed her lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan in September 2020. It asserts four causes of action in total: gender discrimination and retaliation under city and state law. The complaint names the firm, the CEO, the managing director, and another manager as defendants.

The employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates help New York City workers and job seekers fight for their rights in claims for sexual harassment and other violations of city, state, and federal law. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our skilled and experienced team, please contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.

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