Societe Generale Object of Sex Harassment Lawsuit

February 21, 2005 ( - Male employees at the New York office of French Bank Societe Generale made numerous inappropriate sexual remarks at the office, shared pornography at work and brought in sex toys to the workplace, a lawsuit has alleged.

The suit, filed by former employee Kristin Polidori, charged that she was eventually fired when she complained about the atmosphere and what she called harassing behavior directed at her by colleagues in the company’s trade reconciliation department, Reuters reported.

According to the lawsuit, Polidori’s boss, Steven Schiraldi, brought one sex toy into the office on Valentine’s Day 2005 and showed it to Polidori, an entry level employee fresh out of college who was making about $40,000 a year.

Schiraldi then allegedly offered to lend the device to Polidori, telling her he “would wash it off” first. Bernadette Panzella, Polidori’s attorney, told Reuters some of the sexual comments were captured on tape because the young woman began bringing a recorder disguised as a pen into the office as the harassment intensified.

When Polidori reported the harassment, the suit said the company fired Schiraldi, but failed to investigate other managers and co-workers “in a transparent attempt to insulate (SocGen) from plaintiff’s claims.”

Not only that, the suit charged, but the bank also demanded that Polidori go back to work in the department where the harassment had taken place, “transfer to a job 20 feet away” or resign.

The company, France’s second-largest publicly traded bank, insists Polidori was not fired but rather abandoned her job. It said it asked her to return to work after the investigation was complete and offered her “several alternative and comparable positions” at the company.

“Regretfully, she refused to return to work,” SocGen said in a statement.