A former Fidelity Investments employee claims she was taunted by two male colleagues who openly made offensive remarks about her pregnancy, race, women’s bodies and slavery.
Elizabeth Evans said that over a period of about two years she faced an “unrelenting hostile work environment” and “locker room”-style banter at the company’s campus in Merrimack, New Hampshire, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this month.
The Boston-based firm’s human resources department failed to intervene when she complained, the suit alleges.
“I’m fighting for my career in an industry that wasn’t made for people that look like me,” said Evans, who’s described in the lawsuit as Afro-Latina and of Dominican descent.
A spokesman for Fidelity, Vincent Loporchio, said the firm “investigated her complaints and found that they were without merit. We take all allegations of inappropriate behavior very seriously and when behavior of this sort is brought to our attention we investigate it and take prompt and appropriate action. We have no tolerance for this type of behavior and never will.”
Fidelity is among the largest fund firms in the world, with about $3.5 trillion under management as of September.
Evans, 37, who left Fidelity in early 2018, said that she experienced a barrage of racial and sexual antagonism, such that “it is not possible to list all of the comments and conduct in one document, given the volume of the incidents,” according to the complaint filed in New Hampshire state court in Hillsborough County.
She transitioned from another role within the firm to become a global trade operations analyst in April 2016. Shortly after, she learned she was pregnant. One male colleague spoke in “graphic detail” about what happens to a woman’s body following childbirth within earshot of Evans when she was trying to work, according to the lawsuit.
That colleague allegedly asked if she planned to stay home with her children “like every other mom who says she’s coming back to work” and referred to her maternity leave as “vacation.”
That employee and Evans’s male supervisor made other offensive comments, including referring to Mussolini and Hitler as good leaders and saying slavery was great for the U.S. economy, according to the suit.
The two colleagues are named as defendants in the lawsuit. They didn’t respond to emails and phone calls for comment. They remain employees of Fidelity, the company said.