If you quit, you can’t complain about sexual harassment, financial firm allegedly told woman
A former intern at UBS Financial Services is suing the company for $5 million in damages because of the behavior of one its former advisors, court documents obtained by ThinkAdvisor reveal.
Samantah Lambui claims that James Collins and three other employees sexually harassed her, discriminated against her, and retaliated against her after she complained. She says that Collins recruited her in 2013, after he met her in a bar she tended. He paid her $10 per hour from his own salary.
It was not long, Lambui claims, before Collins began making sexual advances toward her. He provided her with expensive fashion accessories as “incentives,” and promised that she could receive more “incentives” if she met him at a hotel so they could have sex.
When her internship was due to end in June of 2013, Collins offered her a permanent position as a client services associate. However, there was a condition, as a text included in the lawsuit made clear. “Look I’m at the marina and my buddies just left,” it began, “so either [you] visit or the internship is over.”
She immediately quit, then went to see assistant branch manager Rosemarie Davitt, who informed her that because she was no longer employed by USB, “there was not purpose in making further complaints.”
A month after she quit, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill granting even unpaid interns the right to sue for sexual harassment.
According to the lawsuit, human resource director Keeley Weir spoke to Lambui, telling her that the company had determined “that Mr. Collins engaged in ongoing professional conduct that made Ms. Lambui feel uncomfortable…engaged in inappropriate physical contact…and violated the firm’s internal policies.”
However, since he had left the company in October, she said Lambui’s only recourse was to file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights, which dismissed the case so that Lambui could take it to federal court.
In a statement, UBS declined to comment on the pending lawsuit. “We do not comment on allegations in pending litigation other than we believe the claims against the firm to be without merit,” the firm said.