Sex on the Floor

Black Man Charges His White Female Boss Sexually Harassed and Discriminated Against Him at the New York Stock Exchange

"Ms. Germino took every occasion to publicly harass and harangue me," he charged. "Ms. Germino tried to set me up for work production failures by placing a disproportionate amount of work on me. She verbalized to another female co-worker that she wanted me out of the department."

In the court ruling, Judge Sifton, relying on Crawford's account, noted that in September 1996, Crawford received a "written warning" from Germino for his failure to properly conduct an investigation into an applicant's registration papers. The unnamed trader had checked a box on his registration form indicating that in the past he had been disciplined for violating the laws of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Based on what he described as erroneous information from an intern, Crawford went ahead and approved the application. "[A] review of the disciplinary database revealed that the applicant had been suspended by the American Stock Exchange, and thus should not have been approved," the judge pointed out.

Germino allegedly came down heavily on Crawford, declaring that he had exposed the NYSE to a possible lawsuit. But Crawford viewed the warning letter as a ruse to have him removed from the department. "The letter stated that Ms. Germino had spoken to [Crawford] on several occasions concerning his failure to follow proper procedure and that [Crawford] admitted that he made certain oversights," the judge explained. "The letter advised [him] that further failures to follow Exchange procedures could result in disciplinary action."

illustration by Justin Hampton

As the relationship deteriorated, Germino allegedly told Crawford that he had not been her first choice for the job. She said she had preferred a female for the unit, which was dominated by women. Crawford claimed that he complained to his union representative about the harassment, but was advised only to "watch his back." He received another written warning in April 1997 for allegedly taking four months to investigate an inquiry about an applicant's fingerprints. Germino reportedly cited 60 fingerprint inquiries that languished in "30 to 40 aged files." In addition, Crawford, according to the warning letter, "failed" to notice that several open investigations into applicants' backgrounds would have disqualified them from becoming members. He said Germino gave him six months to bone up his work performance, adding that failing to do so would subject him to disciplinary action and dismissal.

Judge Sifton highlighted Crawford's defense, indicating that Crawford admitted to delays in processing about 40 applications— not the 60 that Germino insisted were part of the backlog. "[Crawford] states that he had fallen behind in his work because the unit was short-staffed and that during several periods from 1995 to 1997 he was the only full-time employee in the unit," the judge elaborated. "[Crawford] also states that Ms. Germino did not allow him to work overtime, but allowed his Hispanic female co-workers to do this." He added that Crawford complained that "Ms. Germino behaved in a gracious manner toward the female employees but that she was curt and harsh in her behavior toward him."

Crawford angrily told the Voice: "She issued two written warnings without producing any proof of poor performance. She went so far to fabricate a sequence of events that I was supposedly responsible for creating on a day that I was on vacation. She was furious that I had actually turned her advances down." Crawford maintained in his deposition that he was "unaware of any grievance procedure" while he was at the NYSE. But later he complained to Joseph Bailey, vice president of Sales Practice Review. He said he told Bailey that if the harassment and discrimination continued, he would file formal charges against Germino. No action was taken, according to Crawford.

Crawford then filed a complaint with the NYSE's Human Resources Department. Again, he insisted, "no action was taken nor was any attempt made to remove me through a transfer to another department from a situation that was obviously escalating." As for Germino, Crawford charged, she "continued to verbally attack, harass, and discriminate against me. I felt I had no other recourse than to take my complaint to the highest level available to me." So in May 1997, Crawford wrote a letter to Richard Grasso, chairman of the Exchange. "Mr. Grasso never responded to my direct appeal for assistance," Crawford claimed. "[But] Ms. Germino was invited to a meeting [with Grasso], presumably to discuss this matter. After the meeting, Ms. Germino verbally attacked me. The attack was much more vicious than her prior attacks. Ms. Germino's attack was loud, vicious, and public."

Judge Sifton also documented the effects of the alleged abuse on Crawford. In May 1997, "[Crawford] stated that [Germino's] berating of him caused him chest pains and shortness of breath. He sat down in his cubicle and did not go to lunch because of this condition. At 12:45 p.m., he asked Ms. Germino if he could visit the Exchange's medical facilities, and continued to complain of chest pains. He was taken to the emergency room at New York Downtown Hospital and was given a nitroglycerin tablet and an electrocardiogram."

After that episode, Crawford said that upon the advice of doctors, he never returned to his job. "I have subsequently required follow-up treatment for post-traumatic stress syndrome, and I am currently under a physician's care," he told the Voice. "I still experience the effects of depression and extreme anxiety."

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