With details that resemble scenes from “Mad Men” or “The Wolf of Wall Street,” a former UBS intern is suing the firm for $5 million in damages due to the behavior of one of its ex-advisors, according to court documents.
Samantha Lambui,24, who did an internship with UBS in Melville, New York, last year, says advisor James C. Collins sexually harassed her. She also claims that three other UBS employees were involved in discrimination against her, as well as retaliation, battery, assault and even wrongful imprisonment.
The case was filed on Sept. 5 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and is being handled by Judge Katherine Forrest.
“We do not comment on allegations in pending litigation other than we believe the claims against the firm to be without merit,” UBS (UBS) said in a statement.
Collins, who now works as an advisor for Oppenheimer & Co., is being represented by David Gehn, while Lambui has hired Jon-Paul Gabriele as her lawyer. Calls to the attorneys involved in the matter were not returned as of publication.
(The advisor worked for UBS from April 2012 to August 2013. He started in the business with Royal Alliance in late 1997 for two months, but soon went on to Merrill Lynch (BAC), Citigroup (C) and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MS), according to his FINRA records, which include one customer dispute.)
Bartender Turned Client Associate
Lambui says Collins began recruiting her in late 2012, when she was working at Katie Mc’s Bar in Huntington, New York, to pay for college.
Collins went on to offer Lambui a job as his assistant, which began in early 2013. He paid her $10 an hour out of his own salary to work 20 hours a week, according to court documents.
Shortly thereafter, the suit says, Collins made advances toward Lambui. He also promised her fashion items as bonus incentives, including Christian Louboutin shoes and purses. The advisor supposedly went on to promise these same items to Lambui if she would meet him at a hotel where they could have sex. She declined the offers.
This type of behavior continued until mid-June 2013, when the young woman was first told by UBS that her internship was ending. Collins, though, soon offered her a permanent position as a client services associate.
‘My Buddy Bob’
In June, Collins admitted using an alias for Lambui on his cell phone, referring to her as “my buddy Bob” Green as her code name.
Early on the morning of June 22, 2013, Collins sent a text to Lambui that said: “Look I’m at the marina and my buddies just left so either [you] visit or the internship is over.”
Lambui’s response was, “You win … I quit.”
On June 24, the young woman went to see assistant branch manager Rosemarie Davitt, who told Lambui that she was no longer employed by UBS. Lambui insisted that she had signed an offer letter dated June 21 and “that her complaints be heard,” the court papers state. She also shared several text messages with Davitt, who told Lambui that since she was terminated “there was not purpose in making further complaints.”
In early August 2014, human resources director Keeley Weir told Lambui by phone that UBS had conducted an internal investigation and that Weir “corroborated Ms. Lambui’s version of the events,” “that Mr. Collins engaged in ongoing professional conduct that made Ms. Lambui feel uncomfortable … engaged in inappropriate physical contact … and violated the firm’s internal policies.”
Weir also told Lambui during the call that Collins no longer worked for UBS — nor did she.
In October of last year, the former intern filed a complaint before the New York State Division of Human Rights. It acknowledged Collins “admitted that he made sexual overtures” but dismissed the case, so Lambui could pursue the matter in federal court.