March 23, 2000 12:24pm
Brokerages Settle Harassment Suit
by: Larry McShane
(NEW YORK, NY) -- Two Wall Street brokerage houses Thursday settled a $10 million sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed over alleged antics so outrageous they prompted comparisons to ``Animal House.''
Garban LLC and its affiliated firm, Garvin Guy Butler, were accused of allowing strippers onto the trading floor, permitting pornography in the office, and allowing male workers to drop their pants in the view of female workers.
Among the other complaints: male workers routinely bragged about their sexual exploits, used the bathroom with the door open and addressed women in vulgar terms. Employees who complained about mistreatment were often threatened or fired, the suit said.
``This case should send a strong message to all of Wall Street that we will not tolerate an old boys' club or frat house atmosphere in the workplace,'' said state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who announced the agreement. His predecessor filed the lawsuit in 1998.
The lawsuit also contended that minority workers were subjected to racial epithets and racist jokes. Executives were not only aware of the racist and lewd behavior, but participated, the suit alleged.
Under the settlement, female and minority workers who were at the brokerages between September 1996 and September 1998 are eligible to collect back pay, lost benefits, lawyers' fees and damages.
A private company was brought in to resolve any claims. Garban will pay the expenses, plus $200,000 for the state's legal fees.
A call for comment to Garban's office was not returned Thursday.