Recently I ran across a lurid article and associated legal brief describing the man’s side of a he said-she said argument that resulted in the man losing his highly paid job after spending evening casual time with a female subordinate. The man was 45 years old, married with a young child, with the family living in a Manhattan apartment with a company-subsidized rent of approximately $16,333/month. (One would imagine an echoing palace, yet, amazingly, in Manhattan, this kind of money might not even rent a 2-bedroom, 1500-sq ft apartment. Live and learn!)
The lass in this occasion was 25 years old, and a subordinate and indirect report of the man in question, and the fiancé of some other lucky soul. Her compensation was perhaps 1/20th of his. After the events in question, she married, and is still employed by the same firm. She says he was stalking her. He says his intentions were amicable and pure, and that the time they spent in expensive Tribeca restaurants and tired West Village bars was a collegial extension of their water-cooler, chit-chat work acquaintance. He feels misunderstood, and would like at least $9MM from the old job to assuage his pain and suffering. After these events, he decamped Manhattan and returned to his native Tasmania with wife and child. We can imagine the injustice he must feel.
Luckily, we don’t have to imagine much. We have his lawyer’s interpretation to build on, and build we must. The legal brief is worthy of Shouts and Murmurs. The officials at FINRA will judge its merits. Whether this will be like an NFL player asking Roger Goodell for a break remains to be seen. We will know towards the end of April next year, unless the case is quietly settled, most likely with a good chunk of $9MM written off by the old firm. But maybe they won’t settle, in which case it will go from being an instantly forgotten piece of news to being another week’s worth of inside-the-front-page items for the Post before being forgotten by all but former co-workers, who will retell the tale for years to come.
So yes, this event will be forgotten. And yet. Let us delve into the poetry of the legal brief, if only for a few passing moments. To wit, page 22:
Whereas the strong and close feelings of friendship harbored between the two were, at infrequent times, discussed via text messages, so too, primarily, were mundane, benign, and non-salacious topics such as: • Dessert; • Ice cream; • Frozen yogurt; • Pie (apple, lemon meringue); • Toffee pudding; • Bread pudding; • Brownies; • Chocolate mousse; • Cookies; • Muffins; • Cereal (Fruit Loops, Cheerios, Lucky Charms); • Peanut butter; • Jam; • Donuts; • Butter; • Margarine; • Pizza; • Pasta; • Thai noodles; • Chili; • Bacon; • Salad; • Curry; • Rice; • Chicken; • Beef; • Lobster; • Bagels; • Celery; • Guacamole; • Eggs; • Coffee; • Tea; • Hot chocolate; • Milkshakes; • Milk; • Over-eating; • Books; • Magazines; • Newspapers; • Theater; • Sports; • Travel; • Apartment searches; • Furniture; • Restaurants; • Weight; • Exhaustion; • Exercise; • Cooking; • Dancing; • The subway; • Justin Bieber; • Kanye West; • Kim Kardashian; • Marlon Brando; • Robert Duval; • Benicio Del Toro; • Willem Dafoe; • Gary Busey; • Sean Connery; • Martin Sheen; • Robin Thicke; • Pharrell Williams; • Dentistry; • Weather; • Television; • An employment opportunity for Miss Y at Ralph Lauren; • Uber; and • NYC neighborhoods.
This, friends, is the kind of detail that $500/hour of top-notch lawyering will bring you. Together with this conclusion, based on the list:
A review of the text messages exchanged between Mr. X and Miss Y reveals close friends who liked food, liked to talk about food, and liked to discuss, amongst other things, the panoply of other run-of-the mill and manifold topics referenced above.
OK. What do they do while they are together? Let’s find out:
Drinks ultimately lasted for several hours, during which Miss Y: • Attempted, without provocation, on a myriad of occasions, to induce and coerce Mr. X into revealing his true “feelings” for her which, in actuality, were feelings of extremely close friendship only. In fact, as discussed in great detail below, on a litany of prior occasions, Miss Y would try, unsuccessfully, to provoke “confessions” of romantic proclivities from Mr. X towards her; • Consumed, without provocation, an interminable amount of time discussing how attempts were made to recruit her as a swimsuit model and as a lip model, respectively; • Consumed, without provocation, an interminable amount of time discussing her efforts to get work as a fit model and the feedback that she had received regarding this ultimately failed effort; • Boasted, without provocation, ad nauseum and gleefully about her breasts and how they were undoubtedly larger than Mr. X probably realized; • Bragged, without provocation, that her breasts were so large that she did not require padding; • Proclaimed, without provocation, that while her breasts were exceptional, her “butt” was even better; • Confided that she and her fiancé were having sex every week, a fact that she joyfully proclaimed, and she also, unprovoked, shared her preferred lighting arrangements for the performance of said act; • Thanked Mr. X for giving her a book of poetry by Pablo Neruda (hereinafter, the “Poetry Book”). Mr. X – prior to giving Miss Y the Poetry Book at the Drinks – indicated to Miss Y that not only should she refuse it if it made her at all uncomfortable, but that he was only giving it to her because he viewed it as a pretty book with nice drawings by Picasso.
Pablo Neruda. A pretty book. Wise choice. For a friend.
So this man, his wife and child safely at home, bravely subjects himself to this onslaught of 25-year-old blather, out of misplaced workplace comradery, at great financial risk to himself, and solely because he knows that his subordinate needs to be heard, and he is the only person who can really hear her, as a friend. A young woman who, as we learn in footnote 40 on page 42, is still living with her parents. Who obviously don’t hear her, as he does. And perhaps she is a troubled young woman, as suggested by this anecdote, as retold by the man’s lawyer:
Miss Y confided to Mr. X that during her time studying medicine in her home country, her driver would pass a particular spot each day and a policeman would be there, leaning against his car, looking at her in a wanton manner that she allegedly found offensive. One day, when the car was stuck in traffic, she jumped out, picked up a metal bar, and proceeded to break the lights of the policeman’s car. She said that he had a look of great fear in his eyes, which she found pleasing, that intensified with each light that she subsequently broke.
According to this man’s lawyer, the woman was further misunderstood and discriminated against at work, by her female colleagues:
Miss Y confided to Mr. X that during a summer internship at the firm of SchwietzBank Gebingnestrasse, she had received very negative feedback from the other women at the company. She implied that the other women at the company found her to be too forward and flirtatious with her male colleagues in the office.
This is also, according to the man’s attorney, a young lady in financial distress:
Miss Y, on more than one occasion, told Mr. X that in lieu of the extraordinarily insignificant gifts that he had purchased for her, she should have asked for diamonds or money.
Indeed, according to the man’s attorney, the young lady was worried about her relative compensation, and sought solace from the man in this regard:
Mr. X and Miss Y had dinner at Langousteria in Soho. For some time prior, Miss Y had been commenting that she was likely to leave the securities industry and she seemed (or feigned) to have little insight into what she would be “foregoing” were she to leave the industry. Mr. X was able to provide compensation ranges to Miss Y at this dinner for those above Miss Y. For Miss Y to have alleged, suggested, or implied that Mr. X was somehow disclosing proprietary or confidential information is absurd. In fact, Miss Y specifically confirmed that the ranges that Mr. X had shared with her were entirely consistent and in line with what she had already gleaned from others. It should also be noted that whereas Mr. X did disclose to Miss Y his own compensation, such was hardly sinister, furtive, or aberrational. Whereas Mr. X was not in the habit of disclosing his compensation details to others, discussions regarding compensation are commonplace at FederallySubsidizedGinormousBank and in the securities industry in general.
OK. So bankers like to spend a lot of time either whinging or boasting or both about their salaries, and prying the salaries of their colleagues from their cold, dead hands. I didn’t know that.
Anyhoo….something happened. There was an ultimate night out where the young lady (according to the man’s lawyer), once and for all needed to get some feelings from this man. His real feelings. Just let them out. But he wouldn’t! According to his lawyer:
Mr. X did not tell Miss Y that he loved her or that he wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with her. In fact, Mr. X did not love Miss Y nor did he want a romantic relationship with her. Rather, for much of the time, he greatly enjoyed her company, he found her interesting and funny, and he deemed said feelings unusual given their age gap. These were the only “feelings” that he had harbored towards her. Strong feelings of close friendship, yes, but not sexual or romantic feelings of any kind;
Was he saying this? “OK, got it. You’re interesting. You’re funny. You’re more tolerable than most 25-year-olds. Dinner, yes. Texting, yes, on any topic. Maybe some drinks after dinner, before I go home to my wife. But please, let’s get off this topic of feelings. Feelings. That’s why we read Pablo. We can read about it, and then let’s just put it on the shelf. OK? Enough about the feelings.”
Why was this the last night that she would attempt, according to his lawyer, to pry reluctant feelings from his bankerly heart? Did her fiancé read her copious texts and wonder why she wasn’t sharing her thoughts with him about muffins and Gary Busey? Did she think he was going to trade up to her and send the wife and kid packing back to Tasmania? Or was it he who wsa putting her on the spot, sending her a bunch of unwanted texts about Fruit Loops and Marlon Brando, and forcing her to go out to expensive restaurants and West Village dive bars? Where is the truth? Can we objectively verify? Is there remedy for these hurt souls, Miss Y, Mr. X, the future Mr. Y, Mrs. X, young little X junior? We won’t know until next April, if ever.