Broker Sues Morgan Stanley for Sex Discrimination, Harassment
A Massachusetts broker has sued Morgan Stanley for sex discrimination, saying she was forced to leave after completing its three-year advisor training program because of punitive team production splits, lack of administrative support and a “severe and pervasive[ly] sexist and demeaning workplace.”
“The only business development responsibility Defendant wanted Ms. McGoldrick to have was to attract male clients using her looks, and to attract female divorcees using infantilizing business tactics,” the complaint said. “Ms. McGoldrick brought in clients and revenue, yet Morgan Stanley allowed men to poach these clients, did not give her credit for the revenue, and did not pay her fairly.”
McGoldrick, now an independent broker affiliated with Commonwealth Financial, alleged that her complex manager would not allow her to team with another woman producer and permitted the male partner he suggested to devise a punitive joint production agreement that credited her for just 4% of new business.
When she asked for an adjustment based on her claim that she had added more than $1 million of assets to team supervision, the lead adviser dissolved their partnership, the lawsuit said. The advisor subsequently left Morgan Stanley, but McGoldrick’s manager did not assign her any of his accounts, it said.
Her direct supervisor in the training program tolerated “belittling nicknames” from colleagues such as “Gorgeous” and “Babe,” and McGoldrick was not allowed to use a portfolio management tool dubbed “Lydia” that made unilateral portfolio adjustments across multiple client accounts, the suit said.
Her branch in Wellesley included about 35 male brokers and four female ones during her four-and-a-half years with Morgan Stanley, according to the lawsuit.
“Ms. McGoldrick refused to play the role of sex-prop, angering her male peers and supervisors, and earning her the reputation as someone who refused to play by the rules,” it said. “Her refusal to play the role earned her the enmity of the male producers whose support she required to succeed.”
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman said McGoldrick left the firm voluntarily in 2017, without reporting the discriminatory claims as firm policy requires.
“Morgan Stanley is fully committed to equal employment opportunity, and is proud of the fact that its training program for new financial advisors is approximately 50% diverse,” the spokeswoman said. “We intend to defend the matter vigorously.”
Neither McGoldrick nor Rebecca Pontikes, her Boston-based lawyer, returned calls for comment.
Wall Street firms have battled sex discrimination lawsuits for years, including the pioneering “Boom-Boom Room” class-action case filed in 1996 against Morgan Stanley predecessor Smith Barney.
Christine Carona, a veteran Boston-area wirehouse broker, won a $1.6 million award from UBS Financial Services last October in Finra arbitration. Carona, who is now with Morgan Stanley, claimed UBS managers favored men in distributing client accounts. Similar claims have been settled in class-action lawsuits over the past decade by Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co. for more than $100 million.