Firm Founded by First Woman on NYSE Sued Over Frat Culture

  • Plaintiff is a man, unlike in other Wall Street sexism suits
  • He says complaint of ‘sexualized conduct’ triggered backlash

Signage is displayed on the window of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016.

Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

A municipal bond firm co-founded by the first woman to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange was accused of being run like a "rowdy teenage boys’ locker room" by a salesman who alleges in a lawsuit he was insulted and threatened after complaining about the behavior.

Tom Corcoran, who joined Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co. with a position in institutional sales in 2005, said the workplace became "emotionally and physically toxic" after he spoke up about the mistreatment of a female colleague.

"The discriminatory banter and the sexualized conduct that occurred on the desk resembled a college fraternity house," Corcoran said in the complaint filed Tuesday in New York state court, which details a litany of insults, taunts and threats allegedly lobbed at him after he confronted management.

A spokesman for Siebert Cisneros Shank said the firm doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Muriel Siebert broke into the exchange’s all-male membership by paying $445,000 for a seat in 1967 after working as a financial analyst. She co-founded the firm in 1996. She died in 2013, and a subsidiary of Siebert Financial Corp., the discount brokerage she started, sold its interest in the firm last year.

Ex-HUD Secretary

Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1993 to 1997, and ex-New York City comptroller William Thompson joined the firm’s ownership group a year ago, along with Sean Duffy, the company’s managing director of institutional sales, and Victor Miramontes, the former chief executive officer of North American Development Bank. Duffy was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Suzanne Shank, the other co-founder, became majority owner in addition to chairwoman and chief executive officer.

Corcoran’s lawsuit is the latest alleging workplace discrimination by a Wall Street firm, but stands out because the plaintiff is a man.

In September, Bank of America Corp. agreed to settle a lawsuit with a female former managing director who had accused the institution of being a “bros club” that favored male employees. This month, CVC Capital Partners settled a sex-discrimination lawsuit with a former executive who said she was the only female managing director on the private-equity firm’s business side before being pushed out for complaining about sexism.

Citigroup Inc. in 2008 agreed to pay $33 million to settle a lawsuit brought by female brokers at its Smith Barney unit who alleged the company continued to discriminate against women workers after a 1997 sexual-harassment settlement.

In 2007, Morgan Stanley agreed to set up a $46 million claims pool to settle a suit brought by female former financial advisers who said the firm paid them less than their male counterparts and gave them fewer promotion opportunities.

The case is Corcoran v. Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., 159868/2016, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

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