By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Citigroup was sued on Monday by a managing director who said a former top equities banker subjected her to sexual harassment and abuse including death threats.
Ardith Lindsey said the New York-based bank, her employer since 2007, downplayed her complaints about Mani Singh, who had been its North America Markets head of cash equity execution services before he resigned last November.
Lindsey also accused Citigroup of tolerating a “notoriously hostile” environment in its equities division.
She said men there ranked female colleagues based on looks, discussed who they wanted to have sex with, pressured women to visit strip clubs, and mocked the bank’s sexual harassment training and women’s initiatives.
The plaintiff, who worked as Americas head of electronic sales trading, said she has been on medical leave since late 2022, and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, memory loss and a 24-point drop in her IQ.
Lindsey’s lawsuit in Manhattan federal court seeks damages for violations of New York state and city civil rights laws.
It joins other lawsuits accusing big banks of allowing “boy’s club” work environments where men treat women as objects and hinder their careers. Singh is not a defendant.
Citigroup said it will defend against Lindsey’s claims.
“Our values and expectations are clear–no one should ever be discriminated against or harassed in the workplace,” the third-largest U.S. bank said.
“With regard to Mr. Singh, the conduct detailed in the complaint is deplorable, but the relationship Ms. Lindsey describes differs significantly from the accounts she previously provided,” it added.
A lawyer who has represented Singh in separate litigation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
‘WALK THE PLANK TO DEATH TOGETHER’
Lindsey said Singh subjected her to many years of increasingly volatile abuse, sometimes fueled by alcohol or drugs, including alleged threats to destroy her career and reputation if she resisted his advances.
She said Singh often referred to himself as Frank Underwood, the fictional politician played by Kevin Spacey in the TV show “House of Cards” who manipulated others for his own ends.
Lindsey said that after she ended their relationship in October 2022, Singh began five days of incessant phone calls and expletive-laden text messages, including threats they would “walk the plank to death together” and her children would be “ruined.”
The complaint said Citigroup finally distanced itself from Singh after Lindsey disclosed the messages, but told staff that Singh was leaving for “personal and family reasons.”
She also said the bank did not tell the FINRA brokerage regulator about his misconduct on a form it was required to file about his departure.
Lindsey’s lawsuit also seeks damages under New York’s Adult Survivors Act for an alleged sexual assault by another Citigroup executive following a December 2007 holiday party.
That law gives sexual abuse accusers a one-year window expiring on Nov. 23 to sue over alleged misconduct that occurred long ago even if statutes of limitations have run out.
Citigroup “repeatedly emboldened bad behavior by looking the other way,” Lindsey’s lawyer Jeremiah Iadevaia said in a statement.
In its statement on Monday, Citigroup said it put Singh on leave after learning about his text messages, and that he resigned before it finished its investigation.
The case is Lindsey v Citigroup Global Markets Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 23-10166.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)