A registered client services associate at Stifel’s Garden City, New York, office has sued the brokerage firm over the way it treated her recent allegations that a senior investment manager “subjected” her to “egregious sexual assault and harassment.”
Patricia Olivieri alleged that — over two years — senior investment manager Neil Isler had, among other things, placed “the palm of his hand on her buttocks without her consent,” according to a complaint filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Central Islip.
In addition, Isler allegedly spoke to her on multiple occasions about rape, including telling Olivieri that his friend had drugged and raped a woman he knew, according to the complaint.
Isler also allegedly told Olivieri, who began work at the firm in 2018, that he regularly cheated on his wife and had sex with his mistress in his car, among other even more graphic discussions; he also viewed pornography in his office while ensuring Olivieri saw it as well, she said.
According to the complaint’s allegations, Olivieri complained about Isler’s conduct to Stifel management. However, the firm “refused to take the matter seriously, failed to conduct a legitimate investigation and took measures only to protect Mr. Isler — a revenue producer — and shield the Company from potential exposure in litigation,” she alleged.
“Stifel believes the situation has been handled appropriately,” a company spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor on Friday. “Stifel intends to defend this case vigorously and is confident that, when the facts are put forth, it will become clear that Ms. Olivieri was treated fairly and appropriately. Stifel does not comment on the details of ongoing litigation, but has taken Ms. Olivieri’s allegations very seriously and investigated her claims immediately, utilizing internal and external resources.”
For example, the spokesperson explained: “Even before completing the investigation, Stifel proposed a number of options to Ms. Olivieri, all of which were focused entirely on making her comfortable at work. Although her claims could not be corroborated, Ms. Olivieri was transferred to the position of her choice where she would not have contact with Mr. Isler. She has similar responsibilities and compensation. Stifel holds its employees to the highest standards of integrity and accountability and does not tolerate discrimination or harassment. ”
Isler did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The brokerage firm, but not Isler, is named as a defendant in the suit.
However, David E. Gottlieb, a partner at New York law firm Wigdor, who is representing Olivieri, told ThinkAdvisor Friday: “The company is liable for his conduct so there’s no necessity to name him. That said, we may include him as a named defendant in an amended complaint.” In addition, he said “the alleged conduct at issue occurred between June 2018 to the present.”
Isler has been with Stifel since 2007, according to his report on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website. There are no regulatory disclosures on his report for his 20 years in the industry.