New York, NY- Two lawsuits allege that former senior vice president of HSBC back Eileen Hedges sexually harassed a former female subordinate, telling her to dress proactively at work. And the complainants also claim HSBC retaliated against them for speaking out about what they witnessed.
The separate lawsuits were filed by Mike Picarella, who is currently employed by HSBC, and the other was filed James Rist both of whom witnessed Hedges and other executives harass a 27 year-old woman, identified only as Jane Doe.
In his suit, Picarella alleges Hedges pressured Doe to sleep with a senior executive at the HSBC’s Mexico office and later spread rumors that Doe had sex with clients traveling out of the country, Think Progress.
Rist, who dated Doe, said he witnessed numerous incidents of harassment including an incident at a Florida conference where an executive inappropriately touched Doe. He also alleges that another HSBC manager told Doe he wanted “to bend her over, pull her pants down, and spread her cheeks” in front of others,” Think Progress reported.
Both lawsuits say Hedges also encouraged Doe to dress provocatively in the office and once pulled her blouse down, exposing her breasts to coworkers.
The men allege that they and Doe were retaliated against for complaining about Hedges’ behavior. According to the complaint, Doe was fired in 2012 after reporting the harassment so she wouldn’t take her complaints to bank officials. Picarella said he was demoted for reporting Hedges and Rist said his annual bonus was cut by a staggering 60 percent.
Hedges was fired in 2012 following an investigation, but the bank denies the retaliation allegations.
This is yet another case of sexual harassment arising out of the financial sector.
Earlier this month a venture capital firm in San Francisco, CMEA Capital, settled a sexual harassment suit filed a former employee for an undisclosed amount.
Three women accused cchief operating partner John Haag of pervasive and severe” sexual harassment which included telling racist and sexist jokes and calling one employee “Muffy” a slang term for the vagina. The lawsuit alleged Haag repeatedly injected sex into the workplace by making lewd comments to the victims and other coworkers.
He also allegedly groped the women and threatened to have them dismissed if they complained.
Victims of sexual harassment must give their employers the opportunity to address allegations of sexual harassment by conducting an investigation and disciplining an offender when there is evidence of their inappropriate behavior. Too many employers, however ignore these kinds of complaints and allow the status quo to continue.
There is this prevailing misconception that sexual harassment is not big deal, that the victim should just get over and deal. But this harassment can have a host of adverse effects on the victim’s mental and physical health.
Allowing sexual harassment to persist can also impact the workplace as whole, leading to low morale and high turnover rates.
When employers fail to or refuse to address harassment, an employee has no other choice than to hire a sexual harassment attorney to seek compensation for their distress and loss of wages