On March 1, 2018, three United States Senators – Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) – wrote joint letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requesting any information that the agencies have regarding the prevalence of sexual harassment in the financial industry. In their letters, the Senators highlight the “strong ‘cultural and financial forces’ in the industry that discourage speaking out, including the payout of large settlements with non-disclosure agreements to harassment victims, class-action prohibitions, and forced arbitration.”
The letters are significant in light of the recent #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Because of these initiatives, it has recently come to light that many women in the workplace have refrained from reporting sexual harassment for fear that they might be fired, subjected to further harassment, or otherwise retaliated against. By requesting information from the SEC and FINRA, the Senators hope to gain insight into efforts within the financial services industry, which employs over six million people in the United States, to track and combat sexual harassment.
Employees who face sexual harassment should be aware that federal, New York State, and New York City law extend protections against retaliation to employees who complain to their employers regarding, among other things, discrimination, sexual harassment, and wage violations. Accordingly, employees who are demoted, fired, subjected to unwarranted discipline, or otherwise retaliated against for complaining about such workplace issues may have legal claims against their employers.
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Faruqi & Faruqi focuses on complex civil litigation, including: securities, antitrust, employment, and consumer class actions. The firm is headquartered in New York, and maintains offices in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Georgia and California. Since its founding in 1995, Faruqi & Faruqi continues to serve as lead or co-lead counsel in high-profile cases that ultimately provide significant recoveries to investors, consumers and employees.
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About Patrick J. Collopy
Patrick J. Collopy is an Associate in Faruqi & Faruqi’s New York office and focuses his practice on employment law and wage and hour class action litigation.