A former Morgan Stanley financial adviser is suing her ex-employer, alleging she was fired for complaining about sexual harassment that included one manager asking her to send him sexually explicit photographs of herself.
“This type of behavior was commonplace at Morgan Stanley,” according to Ivy Xiao’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, which also names as a defendant her manager at the Santa Monica branch at the time, Christopher Richert.
The alleged causes of action in Xiao’s suit, which seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, are wrongful termination, sexual harassment, sex discrimination, retaliation and failure to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
“We are familiar with Ms. Xiao’s claims and are confident that she was not subjected to any unlawful conduct while employed with Morgan Stanley,” company spokeswoman Christine Jockle said Monday morning.
According to Xiao’s complaint, Morgan Stanley hired Xiao in September 2012 after she completed a rigorous training program. As one of the few female members in her department, she was soon “subjected to repeated sexual harassment due to a sexually charged work environment, sexual propositions and demeaning treatment,” her lawsuit alleges.
Morgan Stanley fostered the sexual atmosphere by failing to train its managers and take preventive measures, according to Xiao’s lawsuit.
One manager removed Xiao from all client accounts they shared after she complained about his sexual advances, which included inappropriate touching and attempting to kiss her, the suit states.
After Xiao complained about another manager’s request to send him sexually explicit photos of her, he rescinded his offer for her to join his team, the suit alleges.
“In fact, Morgan Stanley perpetuated the sexual harassment and hostile work environment by turning a blind eye and refusing to address the concerns raised by plaintiff and others,” the suit states.
Rather than take action against Xiao’s alleged harassers, Morgan Stanley’s human resources department transferred her to the Santa Monica branch, where conditions did not improve because Richert also touched her in a sexual way and made a lewd comment to her about Asian females, the suit states.
When Xiao protested that she was dating someone else and tried to stay away from Richert, he retaliated by “sabotaging her career opportunities” and eventually firing her last September, the suit alleges.
During a meeting with Richert a week before Xiao lost her job, he told her he felt she was “ungrateful” to him and that he was “unappreciated” by her, according to her court papers.
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