Morgan Stanley and Beverly Hills Broker Sued over Sexual Harassment
A former client associate has sued Morgan Stanley and the Los Angeles broker heading her team, claiming he sexually harassed her and ridiculed her Brazilian heritage, according to a lawsuit filed last week in California Superior Court.
Lorena Alcantara alleges that Michael Ladge, an executive director leading a five-broker team in Beverly Hills, persuaded her to join his group in 2015 after meeting her at a high-end gym where she was working as a bartender and taking her on a trip to Brazil to act as a translator for himself and pop star Katy Perry, one of his clients.
“Ladge’s real purpose in hiring Alcantara—a beautiful young woman in her mid-twenties at the time—was to try to exploit his power with Alcantara, to subject her to demeaning and harassing behavior, to use her beauty to attract clients, and to pursue a sexual relationship with her,” according to the filing, which seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The lawsuit is the latest in a slew of sexual harassment complaints rocking many sectors of American business since allegations about movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s exploits burst into the headlines last October.
“Morgan Stanley has a longstanding, well-known policy prohibiting inappropriate sexual conduct in the workplace,” a spokeswoman for the broker-dealer said. “We take these allegations very seriously and are reviewing the lawsuit.”
Last July, Ivy Xiao, a former Morgan Stanley broker in the same Los Angeles-area complex where Ladge works, sued the company and her former branch manager alleging they fostered a “sexually charged and hostile” work environment. The case is ongoing but Morgan Stanley dismissed the manager.
At least two other brokers have been dismissed from the complex this year amid accusations of harassment, according to three persons with knowledge of their departures. Robert Perry, the manager of the “Beverly Hills” complex, took a leave of absence earlier this month but a person with knowledge of his leave said it is unrelated to the harassment complaints.
Perry did not immediately respond to a request for comment left at his listed residential phone number.
In her lawsuit filed on March 15, Alcantara alleged that Ladge ridiculed her “limited” English, questioned her sexual orientation in conversation with other associates and on a “near daily basis” harassed her by making lewd remarks. She did not disclose her reasons for resigning to Morgan Stanley because her boss had “worn her down,” reminding her how much she owed him for giving her the job, the complaint said.
Morgan Stanley “knew or should have known about such conduct but authorized, ratified and/or failed to take appropriate action,” according to the complaint, which was filed after Alcantar received authorization to sue from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Ladge has been registered as a broker for 21 years, according to his BrokerCheck history. He began his career at Morgan Stanley in 1996, and went on to work at Credit Suisse, UBS Financial Services and Smith Barney before the latter firm was absorbed by Morgan Stanley in 2009.
—Jed Horowitz contributed to this story.