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Stifel Sued Over Sexual Assault and Harassment Complaints

By Peter Rawlings January 15, 2021

A client services associate has accused Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. of conducting a sham investigation into her complaints that a senior investment manager at the firm sexually assaulted and harassed her.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Patricia Olivieri says Garden City, N.Y.-based advisor Neil Isler subjected her toegregious sexual assault and harassment” for two years. Olivieri detailed a list of allegations against Isler, claiming he placed his hand on her buttocks without her consent, repeatedly made graphic comments about his sex life to her, told her stories about rape and watched pornography in his office when she was present.

When Olivieri complained to Stifel management about the behavior, the lawsuit claims that “Stifel refused to take the matter seriously, failed to conduct a legitimate investigation and took measures only to protect Mr. Isler — a revenue producer — and shield the Company from potential exposure in litigation.”

In the lawsuit filed on January 5 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York — which names only Stifel as the defendant — the following allegations were outlined:

Both Olivieri and Isler remain registered with Stifel and employed at the company, according to their respective BrokerCheck records and a company spokesperson.

“Stifel intends to defend this case vigorously and is confident that, when the facts are put forth, it will become clear that Ms. Olivieri was treated fairly and appropriately.”
Spokesperson
Stifel
Olivieri joined Stifel in February 2018 as a registered client services associate, assisting Isler in managing more than 1,500 clients and over $300 million in assets, according to the lawsuit. In June 2018, Olivieri was assigned to report to Isler directly, the lawsuit adds.

“Stifel had a choice to make: do the right thing and stand by a victim, or turn a blind eye and support the harasser because he happens to be a revenue producer. Stifel chose the latter.”
David Gottlieb
Wigdor
Isler has been with Stifel since 2007 following its acquisition of Ryan Beck & Company, where he had previously worked, according to BrokerCheck.

FA-IQ reached out to Stifel, Isler and Olivieri and her lawyer for this story.

“Stifel does not comment on the details of ongoing litigation but has taken Ms. Olivieri’s allegations very seriously and investigated her claims immediately,” a Stifel spokesperson says.

“Stifel believes the situation has been handled appropriately. Stifel holds its employees to the highest standards of integrity and accountability and does not tolerate discrimination or harassment,” the spokesperson adds. “Stifel intends to defend this case vigorously and is confident that, when the facts are put forth, it will become clear that Ms. Olivieri was treated fairly and appropriately.”

David Gottlieb, a partner at law firm Wigdor and one of Olivieri's lawyers, tells FA-IQ: “Ms. Olivieri had the courage to raise sexual harassment complaints against her boss, Neil Isler, and Stifel had a choice to make: do the right thing and stand by a victim, or turn a blind eye and support the harasser because he happens to be a revenue producer. Stifel chose the latter. We will hold both Stifel and Mr. Isler responsible for this unacceptable conduct.”

When asked why Isler was not named as a defendant, Gottlieb replied: “There’s a procedural/technical reason he’s not named in the initial iteration of the complaint, but he will be included in an amended complaint shortly."

Isler and Olivieri did not respond to FA-IQ as of this writing.

Lawsuit details what Stifel allegedly did and didn’t do

According to Olivieri’s lawsuit, in which she demands a jury trial, Stifel’s response to her complaints included:

“Stifel is more interested in protecting its bottom line than victims of discrimination, sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation,” Olivieri’s lawsuit alleges.

"Stifel’s willingness to stand by Mr. Isler after he sexually assaulted and harassed Ms. Olivieri is reprehensible and has forced Ms. Olivieri to continue to work in an environment where she feels unsafe and fears that Mr. Isler may assault her again,” it adds.

Do you have a news tip you’d like to share with FA-IQ? Email us at editorial@financialadvisoriq.com.

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