Fidelity Investments sued for discriminatory and hostile workplace

A sign marks a Fidelity Investments office in Boston

By Tom Hals

(Reuters) – A former female employee of Fidelity Investments has sued the company for discrimination and a hostile workplace where women were allegedly disparaged and racially insensitive comments were made, according to a lawsuit.

Elizabeth Evans, who is described in the lawsuit as Afro Latina and of Dominican heritage, said male colleagues also denigrated Islam, praised the U.S. economic impact from slavery and graphically discussed the impact of childbirth on women.

Evans took maternity leave during her stint with the company.

While Evans compared the environment to a locker room, she attributed many of the allegedly racist and sexist comments to two male colleagues who she also named as defendants.

Fidelity spokesman Vincent Loporchio said the claims had been investigated and found to be without merit.

“We take all allegations of inappropriate behavior very seriously and when behavior of this type is brought to our attention we investigate it and take prompt and appropriate attention,” said Loporchio.

“We obviously have no tolerance for this type of behavior and we have a vibrant, healthy and respectful culture where tens of thousands of people have built long, respected careers.”

With about $3.5 trillion in assets, Boston-based Fidelity is one of the largest U.S. money managers and known for its actively managed funds like Contrafund.

Evans worked at Fidelity in Merrimack, New Hampshire from October 2015 until she resigned in February 2018.

She said she complained to superiors, leading to retaliation against her rather than meaningful changes, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in state court in New Hampshire.

She is seeking lost wages, compensation for emotional distress and punitive damages, according to the lawsuit.

Fidelity’s Chairman Abigail Johnson said in 2017 the company would not tolerate any type of harassment after two Fidelity money managers were dismissed in the wake of claims of sexual harassment.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; additional reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)