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Citi failed to protect managing director from sexual harassment, lawsuit claims



A Citigroup managing director alleged the bank failed to protect her from a supervisor’s violent threats and abuse due to a “pervasive” culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination, according to details added Monday to her November lawsuit, Reuters reported.

Ardith Lindsey, the former head of electronic sales trading for the Americas, claimed Citigroup ignored multiple complaints from her and other women employees, fostering an environment of sexual misconduct. Lindsey outlined threats from Mani Singh, the former head of North America Markets head of cash equity execution services, who resigned in November 2022, the publication noted. 

“Contrary to the Bank’s carefully cultivated public image, however, many male executives created, and the Bank knowingly tolerated an environment that has been openly and notoriously hostile to women. Citi, especially in the Equities division, has been a workplace where sexual harassment and gender discrimination are rampant and egregious,” Lindsey said in the November complaint.

Lindsey alleged that she was “coerced” into having a relationship with Singh for years and could not raise her voice because of threats to harm her and her family. Sometimes, Singh’s behavior toward her turned violent with excessive use of alcohol and drugs, the complaint said. After she ended the relationship with him in October 2022, Singh subjected Lindsey to a slew of abuse via text messages and numerous phone calls that included threatening her career, compensation and reputation.

The messages included expletive language like, “I am going to set you on fire,” “Kids no kids I don’t give a f— [I] plan to burn it all down,” and “Your children will have no future with [a] Slut like you.”

Lindsey complained to Citi about Singh’s behavior in November 2022 and attached screenshots of several of Singh’s messages to the complaint.

But Citi “chose to overlook numerous red flags about Singh’s conduct,” Lindsey said in the amended complaint, Reuters reported.

Lindsey is on leave from the bank, she told Reuters. Citi was not immediately available for a comment, while Singh did not return a voicemail requesting comment, according to the wire service.

Citi also did not return a request for comment by press time to Banking Dive.

The alleged abuse and hostile work environment left Lindsey with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and memory loss, conditions that have made her unable to continue working, according to her doctors, the complaint said.

However, following her lawsuit, Andy Morton, Citigroup’s global head of markets, wrote in a memo in November last year that no one should be discriminated against or harassed at work and that employees should report inappropriate behavior. “We will take decisive action when we determine unacceptable behavior has taken place,” he said.

The bank called the harassment in the original complaint “deplorable” but pointed out that Lindsey’s description of her relationship with Singh differed significantly from her earlier one, according to Reuters.

“Even though Citi was fully aware of Singh’s heinous conduct towards Lindsey and consistent with the Bank’s history of permitting discrimination and harassment and silencing victims, it went out of its way to praise Singh on his way out,” the complaint said.

Lindsey claimed that some male bankers visited strip clubs, drank excessively, made comments about female colleagues, or even used cocaine in the office.

She named many senior executives of the firm and detailed examples of their misconduct, showing their involvement in sexual relationships with direct reports or junior staff.

“In many of those instances, for no apparent reason the women, and not the men, left the Bank,” the filing said.

Lindsey’s claims echo a report Bloomberg published last month in which interviews with 22 people at Citi showed that sexual advancements and misconduct were persistent, along with discrimination in the equities department in New York. Citi, however, made headlines in 2021 by appointing Jane Fraser as its CEO — the first-ever female chief of a major U.S. bank. 

Lindsey alleged that Citi did not respond to her concerns until she filed the lawsuit almost a year after she reported Singh’s messages to the bank. She further said that a senior manager tried to disregard her legal complaint, claiming she was causing trouble. Lindsey said that Citi also sent a survey about workplace culture to women in the markets unit.

The amended lawsuit comes on the heels of a sex discrimination suit filed by a Wells Fargo bond saleswoman who claims the bank denied the pay and promotions available to men in the company.

“The financial institutions group is a self-acknowledged ‘boys club’ where locker room talk on the sales floor is de rigueur,” creating an “unapologetically sexist working environment,” Michal Leavitt said in a complaint filed in a federal court in Chicago, Reuters reported earlier this month. 

Last year, Goldman agreed to pay $215 million to settle a long-standing gender discrimination lawsuit brought by former and current employees alleging the Wall Street giant consistently underpaid women. The settlement included 2,800 women associates and vice presidents who participated in the class action, primarily belonging to the investment banking, investment management and securities division, from July 2002 to March 2023.

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