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Wall St. Firm Hit By Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

A former employee of a Wall St. financial firm filed a lawsuit last month accusing the company's chief executive officer of sexual harassment and alleging that the firm created and tolerated a hostile work environment.

Hanna Bouveng, 24, accuses NYG Captial CEO Benjamin Wey of consistently subjecting her to "disgusting and degrading" sexual harassment "that was so inappropriate and outrageous that any member of society would take offense," the complaint says. The harassment occurred between July 2013 and April 2014, at which point Bouveng was unlawfully terminated, according to the suit.

"During her employment [with NYG], Bouveng was subjected to the flagrantly lewd, vulgar and repulsive sexual advances of [Wey]," the complaint says. "Unfortunately, [Bouveng] was repeatedly and consistently subjected to unsolicited sexual propositions and sexual commands, as well as sexual gropings, molestations, assault and battery, as well as stalking."

According to the suit, Bouveng, a Swedish native in the United States on a J-1 Visa, began working as a paid intern at NYG in July 2013. Roughly two weeks into her tenure at the company, Wey began insisting that Bouveng wear clothes to work that he had purchased for her, which included tight skirts, formfitting dresses and low-cut shirts, the complaint says.

While at first Bouveng believed Wey's actions were the "consequence of cultural differences," she soon learned otherwise, according to the complaint. By October 2013, Wey would often place his arm around Bouveng's waist and kiss her on the cheek while in the office, and as time progressed, he began insisting that she spend "most if not all of her evenings" with him, and not only in business situations, the suit says."[Bouveng] felt increasingly annoyed, harassed and trapped," the complaint says.

Then in November 2013, Wey's actions became "increasingly physical," according to the suit, despite Bouveng's repeated resistance and refusal to reciprocate his advances. Wey, who is in his mid-40s and married with three children, consistently said a slew of inappropriate things to Bouveng, such as "I want to kiss you" and "I want to make love to you," the suit alleges.

In addition, Wey manipulated Bouveng by emphasizing that she could only advance her career by sticking close to him and "following his tutelage," which in turn caused Bouveng to feel "humiliated, confused and concerned about her reputation," according to the suit.

The inappropriate behavior continued and progressed in the months leading up to December 2013, when Wey "forced [Bouveng] to have sexual intercourse with him" after a dinner, the suit says. The forced sexual relations occurred multiple times, despite Bouveng's resistance, according to the suit.

By February of this year, Wey had begun stalking Bouveng and her friends outside the workplace, which led to Bouveng's feeling "threatened and compromised."

On April 22, "in direct retaliation for her refusal to further submit to his sexual advances," Wey fired Bouveng, the suit says.

Even after her firing, the harassment continued, with Wey making defamatory remarks and sending emails to Bouveng and her family and friends that said she had been terminated for "alcohol abuse," according to the suit.

Bouveng's lawsuit asserts 14 causes of action, including quid pro quo sexual harassment, sexually hostile work environment, gender discrimination, and retaliation, under both the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq. , and the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-101 et seq. Other causes of action include assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and stalking.

If you have been subject to sexual harassment in your New York workplace, contact the sexual harassment lawyers at Schwartz Perry & Heller LLP.

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