Related Companies has a record of sexual harassment and discrimination allegations. Gross misconduct and sexual assault at Related Apartment Preservation, LLC (RAP), an affordable housing arm of Related, were detailed in a legal filing by a former female employee. This problem extends to rampant complaints of sexual harassment and misconduct against some companies that Related has used as subcontractors. Trade Off Construction, ECD NY and Power Design all stand accused of sexual harassment or discrimination.
Examples of behaviors Related and its subcontractors are accused of allowing and/or encouraging include:
- A Related subsidiary president jeered as a business associate licked the neck of a resisting female Related employee and told her she smelled like a “sensual woman.”
- A female employee of Related subcontractor ECD NY, Inc. was told to bring in more “pretty, sexy girls” to hire as flaggers.
- At Related’s 520 West 30th Street project, a Trade Off foreman would stand outside the bathroom, staring menacingly at a female employee; when she confronted him, he reportedly said, “Bitch, I do what the fuck I want to do. I don’t know who you think you’re talking to.”
- After enduring inappropriate comments about her body, her diet, her relationship with her boyfriend, and sexual characteristics of other female employees, a female Power Design worker spoke up to supervisors about the harassment; she recounts being told the comments were “boys being boys,” that she should “keep quiet,” and was eventually terminated.
Related Companies itself is no stranger to sexual harassment complaints. In 2011 a female analyst filed a sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuit against Related. The worker detailed multiple sexual assaults that were allegedly condoned or encouraged by her supervisors, Mark Carbone and Matthew Finkle, the president and vice president of a Related affordable housing subsidiary.
The complaint describes a series of sexual assaults that Carbone apparently openly encouraged and enjoyed observing. These incidents are alleged to have largely occurred at office parties and networking events. In various incidents described in legal proceedings, Carbone is said to have watched, cheering and laughing, as the female employee was groped and licked despite her repeated protests. The employee reported enduring comments like, “You smell like a sensual woman” and being asked if her “ass was tight.”. At an office party, Carbone allegedly harassed the employee to “kiss and make up” with Finkle and told her to loosen up when she resisted.
The employee also describes a hostile workplace rife with sexualized commentary and gender-based discrimination. Conversations between male employees ranged from describing sexual activity between women and lewd comments they made to women. According to the Court papers, Finkle and Carbone used derogatory terms to describe women like “pig,” “bitch,” and “douche bag.”. Finkle also made demeaning remarks about women, including asserting that men were dominant to women and that women were not desirable after having children. Carbone and Finkle would exclude women from work events they organized. For example, the complaint alleges that the female employee was excluded from “analyst lunches,” golf-outings, a trip on a private plane to watch a Red Skin football game, and mid-day boozy business lunches.
During court proceedings in the case, Related’s attorney took the position that the company should effectively be given full access to the plaintiff’s Facebook account because it had located pictures showing “Ms. Dorn hanging out, drinks in her hand, posing somewhat provocatively with friends—partying basically.” In other words, Related sought to defend the claim, in part, by suggesting that the woman’s lifestyle or presentation on social media could explain what she said happened to her.
The case was settled. Mathew Finkle has since been promoted to President of Related Affordable.
Trade Off Construction
Female construction employees of Trade Off describes a hostile workplace where sexually harassing behavior is routine. Some of the worst examples of this occurred at 55 Hudson Yards, where a worker claims on multiple occasions her supervisor exposed his penis and/or solicited her for sex. Other reports of harassment included inappropriate sexually demeaning comments, and cat calling.
In a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), a female Trade Off employee describes threatening and demeaning treatment by a Trade Off foreman while working on Related’s 520 West 30th Street project. The worker had already suffered a miscarriage after working through her pregnancy for fear of losing her job. Her miscarriage required repeated access to on site bathrooms. As described in the complaint, the foreman would follow her and stand outside the bathroom menacingly staring at her. When she confroted the foreman, he reportedly responded, “Bitch, I do what the fuck I want to do. I don’t know who you think you’re talking to.” After speaking with her supervisors about these issues, the worker claims she was fired.
ECD NY, Inc.
ECD, NY, currently working at Related’s 501 West 18th Street, Manhattan, is accused by a female employee of sexual harassment and discrimination. In July 2015, the female employee reports she was directed to find “pretty, sexy girls” to hire as fire guards. After this comment, the female employee discovered her starting salary of $14 per hour was $6 to $8 less per hour compared to men with fewer credentials, according to her legal filing. She approached company president Barry McKenna about getting a raise to match her male coworkers pay. For months, the employee says she was promised a raise that never materialized as she continued to do work that required equal skill and effort as her male coworkers. When the raise finally was granted, it was only an increase of $2 an hour, leaving her paid still significantly less then what male workers were making. When the female worker brought this concern to McKenna, she was ignored and ultimately terminated, according to legal filings. The case is ongoing as of August 31, 2018.
Summonses have been issued to ECD NY, Inc. by two additional female employees under the provisions of N.Y. Labor Law §194, which makes it unlawful to pay employees differently based on sex.
Related Companies’ electrical subcontractor at 909 Half Street in Washington DC was accused of allowing sexual harassment in their office as well as discriminating against a female worker in the field.
A female employee of Power Design who worked in their Florida office filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and civil suit against Power Design. She claimed she was “sexually harassed, embarrassed, abusively demeaned, retaliated, and discriminated against at work” by the Regional Vice President, Robert Dean McMillian. In the federal complaint, the worker alleges “Power Design has a history of condoning McMillian’s illegal conduct by terminating those who do not acquiesce and its corporate culture creates, tolerates and fosters a sexually hostile work environment which forced employees to silently endure, ignore, and condone discrimination or risk termination.”
The female worker describes verbal and physical harassment ranging from inappropriate comments about her body, her diet, her relationship with her boyfriend, sexual characteristics of other female employees and inappropriate physical contact. One example disclosed is Mr. McMillian’s frequent recounting of another employee’s appearance in Girls Gone Wild and consistent inquiries if she had watched the movie yet.
When the female spoke up about this behavior, the complaint describes her concerns as dismissed by Power Design as “mere joke” and “boys being boys.” The worker was told to “keep quiet” and eventually fired in apparent retaliation. The complaint states that after her termination, in a team meeting, Mr. McMillian told the rest of the staff to “keep his name out of their mouth, or they will ‘end up like’” the terminated female worker.
The case was stayed following the parties’ agreement to resolved the issue through arbitration.
In another sexual discrimination case, a Power Design female project manager claimed that she was terminated for requesting leave for the birth of her child. This allegation, if proven, is a violation of the Family Medical Leave Act. According to the complaint, within four hours of notifying her employer of her intention to request this time off, she was terminated. The case was eventually dismissed by joint agreement of the parties, presumably based on a settlement.