A New York based investment banker is suing her firm after, she alleges, her boss greeted her each day with a cheerful 'good morning'.
The banker, who cannot be named for legal reasons, enjoyed a 20 year career on Wall Street, but claims she was forced to leave her last role working for a major international investment bank as she was unable to cope when her boss behaved in a civilized way toward her.
According to the suit, filed Monday in the Court for the Southern District of New York, the 44 year old banker claims that her male boss 'often came in smiling and had the audacity to utter the words 'Good Morning' as he passed by my desk'. She continued, 'I have worked on Wall Street for almost two decades and my bosses have always totally ignored me. I felt intimidated. My boss's behaviour was completely inappropriate, and his attitude was totally over-familiar. Even my husband, who I have known for 23 years, doesn't speak to me in this manner. In fact, he doesn't speak to me at all'.
The banker also took exception to the fact that her boss encouraged her to take time off to be with her young children, and constantly complained that she was working overly long hours. 'He insisted that I take my full maternity leave after the birth of my last child, and even had the impertinence to give me a decent bonus that year - despite the fact that I was hardly in the office'. The banker says that she found the whole experience 'disconcerting', and claims that 'I had an identity crisis. My boss challenged my perception of myself and my role in life. I couldn't cope, and ended up seeing a shrink'.
Repeatedly asking her boss to stop his alleged inappropriate behaviour, the banker says that 'he ignored my pleas to be treated in a normal way and continued to behave as if nothing was wrong'. The banker is now seeking $10m - $2m for unfair dismissal and loss of earnings, $7m for punitive damages and $1m towards her therapy bills.
A spokesperson for the bank said that 'this is a very sad case. Mrs X was a dedicated, hardworking member of our staff. She did, however, have problems relating to those around her, especially more senior staff. She refused to take time off, and at one stage remained in the office working for a full 5 days. Other employees started to complain about hygiene-related issues. We tried to encourage Mrs X to get a better work / life balance and even attempted to retrieve her BlackBerry each evening before she left the office so that she wouldn't spend time at home working. Unfortunately, she took to swallowing her BlackBerry just before she left the office, and somehow managed to recover it soon after returning home. Amazingly, it always seemed to be in full working order'.
The final straw came when, so the firm says, Mrs X refused to leave the building after another 36-hour work stretch, and chained herself to her desk. She is said to have been still calling clients from her mobile telephone even as she was finally cut free and escorted from the premises by bank security staff. She was let go soon after, but continued to attempt to gain access to the office each morning for the next 4 months, often disguised as a bearded Catholic priest. The bank finally got a restraining order against her.
This case will come to court later this year, and is expected to last 6 weeks.