New York City – Even in this day and age, some workplaces are still the same old “boys’ club.” It looks like that’s the case for Philippa Okoye, the wife of San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Lawrence Okoye, who filed a lawsuit in Manhattan court for gender discrimination and sexual harassment against her former employer.

In October 2013, Okoye was hired as a senior investment advisor at deVere USA Inc., a registered investment firm, and claims she had problems with her male colleagues in the office from day one. As the sole female employee, Okoye alleges she was subjected to “inappropriate and offensive sexual comments and degrading comments about women.”  Philippa Okoye says.
In particular, Benjamin Alderson, a registered investment advisor who served as COO and senior area manager for the deVere USA firm, openly made it known that he wanted to pattern his office after ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ and ‘Boiler Room.’ Benjamin Alderson allegedly made inappropriate remarks regarding his dislike of having women in the deVere offices and her relationship with her husband, including, “I think it’s disgusting when white women go out with black guys,” the complaint states.

Okoye claims she attempts to address the sexual harassment issues but discovered deVere USA had no HR department and she dreaded going to executive management for fear of retaliation.
In January 2014, Alderson removed Okoye from her sales position and made her a coordinator, cutting her pay by more than 37 percent, the complaint states. Eventually, she was fired – but Okoye says there was no legitimate business reason for her termination. Now, she seeks damages in Manhattan Supreme Civil Court.

“We are shocked and dismayed that a legitimate employment termination has sparked such a malicious response,” the company said. “Unfortunately, we are very limited about what we can say about this as it’s subject to legal proceedings, but we pledge to clear the names of those wrongly accused and look forward to doing so in court.”

NYC Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environments at investment banks

New York City is one of the largest business and financial hubs in the world. Competition is fierce and work environments often reflect this aggressive atmosphere. When workplace competition turns to hostility and sexual harassment, your employer might be toeing the line into illegal and unethical behavior. To add additional stress, women are often the minority in workplaces, forcing them to deal with these types of hostile work environments.
Signs you might be working in a hostile work environment caused by sexual harassment:

  • Your co-workers tell you ‘women should stay at home’
  • Employees are not reprimanded when they make sexually explicit comments
  • A colleague suggests sleeping around is the way to get ahead
  • Your boss tells you women are too emotional to handle the demands of the job
  • Co-workers whistle and cat-call when you walk by
  • An executive asks you about your sexual history and preferences
  • A colleague or supervisor hits on you or touches you in a sexual manner

Even a single incident may be enough to warrant an NYC sexual harassment lawsuit. Consulting with a lawyer is a smart move if you have questions. Our attorneys do not accept upfront fees so your initial conference is free. There is no fee unless we recover.

The New York City sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC handle a multitude of employment discrimination cases that involve sexual harassment and gender/sex discrimination in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island and throughout the state of New York. We also represent employees sexual harassment cases in New Jersey, Pennsylvania & Miami. Sexual Harassment is gender-based discrimination and is illegal.  For further information, please feel free to call us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation, or click here to schedule a free consultation.