Ex-Employee Sues Advent Capital Management for Sexual Harassment
A former junior investment associate alleges sexual harassment and discrimination; the hedge fund firm claims she stole documents.
A former employee is suing hedge fund firm Advent Capital Management and its founder for alleged sexual harassment and discrimination, the latest development in a long-running dispute between the employee and the firm.
Courtney Robb, who worked as a junior investment associate at Advent Capital from 2016 to 2017, filed a suit Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawsuit claims that male employees engaged in a game called “f---, marry, kill,” in which they classified women, including their coworkers, into those categories.
Her suit alleges that during this game, one of her male colleagues said Robb “was such an uptight b---- that she already was at ‘wife’ status.”
The complaint is the latest in an ongoing back-and-forth between Robb and Advent. When she was fired in 2017, she filed a complaint with the NYC Human Rights Commission, according to the lawsuit filed Monday. After that, Advent filed a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court, alleging that Robb stole documents from the firm.
“While Advent cannot comment on pending litigation, we believe that the complaint does not fairly or accurately recount the facts of this matter,” an Advent spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Institutional Investor. “This is plaintiff’s third law firm in three years. Advent filed a lawsuit against plaintiff in 2017 that remains pending. Advent intends to vigorously defend against these claims. Advent is proud of its commitment to a culture free of harassment and being a strong advocate of civil rights organizations nationally.”
In a statement, Robb’s attorney, Jeanne Christensen, called the 2017 Advent lawsuit a “brutal retaliation,” adding, “This case demonstrates that #MeToo still has many miles to go on Wall Street.”
The lawsuit filed Monday includes a litany of allegations against Advent and its employees.
According to the lawsuit, female employees were allegedly paid less than their male counterparts and received fewer opportunities for development and advancement in the company. Female employees were also allegedly asked to clean up after meetings, the complaint alleged. Robb also alleged that on a regular basis, senior men at the firm would use words like b---- and c--- to refer to women.
“Advent had no human resources department,” according to the lawsuit. “Ms. Robb was forced to express her objections to her male supervisors and other senior leaders — all men.”
In late March 2017, after Robb brought her concerns to the firm’s chief operating officer, the firm’s founder, Tracy Maitland, allegedly called her into his office and closed the door. “I heard you think the company’s management is f---ed up,” he allegedly said, and brushed off Robb’s concerns, referring to the behavior as “locker-room talk,” according to the lawsuit.
Several days after this meeting, the firm’s COO allegedly called Robb into his office to ask whether she had been aware that Advent portfolio manager Mike Brown allegedly took nude photos of women at his home. Following this, Robb learned that Advent employees joked and discussed that Brown allegedly used these photos to create “lewd calendars” that he shared with certain employees, the lawsuit said.
In May 2017, Robb was fired from the firm. The lawsuit alleges that her termination was without merit, and noted that just prior to her being fired, the firm’s COO praised her in a company-wide email for her work with a prospective client.
Robb then filed a complaint with the NYC Human Rights Commission, the lawsuit said. After Robb filed the complaint, Advent filed a lawsuit against her in the New York Supreme Court, alleging that Robb stole documents from the firm.
According to that lawsuit, Robb allegedly forwarded emails containing confidential documents from her work email to her personal email address during the four-month period between February to May 2017. This, according to Advent, was against company policy.
The emails Robb allegedly forwarded to herself included a request for proposal submitted to a prospective investor and a portfolio appraisal spreadsheet that included details of the firm’s holdings. The firm is asking the court to make Robb return all information and allow Advent to engage an independent forensic expert, at Robb’s expense, to remove its documents from all her devices. The firm is also seeking compensatory damages. The suit is ongoing, the court docket shows.
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According to the lawsuit filed on Monday by Robb, her supervisor, Craig Altshuler, allegedly told Robb in 2016 to bring her personal laptop into work and had the firm’s IT department install software on it. At the time, she was allegedly told that this was necessary because she was expected to work from home.
“By early 2020, Ms. Robb had paid legal fees in excess of what Advent paid to her in 2016” to fight Advent’s complaints, according to the lawsuit she filed Monday, which called the accusations against her “false and defamatory.”
Robb is alleging that the firm violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, the Equal Pay Act, and the New York Labor Law Equal Pay Law. She is seeking compensation for monetary damages, emotional distress, and attorney fees and costs, as well as a declaratory judgment against the firm.