Former senior executive claims sexual harassment and reprisal against city officials in CU
The $ 4.1 billion Municipal Credit Union has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by one of its former senior executives who claimed supervisors ignored her and had retaliated against her over complaints of sexual harassment from former Chairman / CEO Kam Wong.
Anie Akpe-Lewis, who was MCU’s vice president of mortgage operations, also alleged that she had discovered a growing number of MCU installment loan defaults that she suspected of being fraudulent. She also claimed that an MCU employee was involved in auto loan down payment embezzlement schemes and that Wong forced mortgage approval from a doctor with whom he had a close personal relationship.
Lawyers representing MCU and seven people who previously worked at the credit union argued that Akpe-Lewis’s lawsuit should be dismissed because his allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation were mere assertions and were not supported by no specific fact. The case is heard in federal court in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
Lawyers for the MCU have not responded to Akpe-Lewis’ allegations of financial improprieties.
In addition to Wong, who is in federal prison for embezzling nearly $ 10 million from New York’s oldest credit union, the lawsuit also named P. Kay Woods and Mark Ricca, who both served as CEOs of MCU at different times after the retention of the credit union. in May 2019; former MCU credit director and interim CEO Norman Kohn; Sonita DiStefano, former director of mortgage loans; and human resources consultants Shannon Mashburn and Yixue Jiang. All were Akpe-Lewis’s supervisors.
In her trial, Akpe-Lewis alleged that from October 2007 to December 2017, she was “on several occasions the target of a continuing illegal, unwanted and hostile pattern of counterpart sexual harassment by Wong, and that ‘he constantly offered her to have intimate and illicit sex.
Because she allegedly rejected his sexual advances, she suffered retaliation by being denied salary increases in 2018 and 2019 and her bonus was reduced by 50% from 2015 to 2019. Akpe-Lewis also claimed that she had been excluded from monthly meetings with other SVPs, refused committee appointments and was “suddenly ridiculed for her afro hairstyle and forcing Anie to pin her hair”.
The former senior credit union executive also claimed that she repeatedly reported Wong’s harassment to MCU’s credit manager Kohn, but he allegedly “summarily dismissed” her complaints, berated her and n never investigated them.
“While the plaintiff vaguely and conclusively alleges that she was subjected to unwanted sexual advances from 2007 to 2017, no details are provided regarding what was said or done, on what dates, how. occurred, who was present, etc., making it impossible to reasonably conclude that the alleged misconduct meets applicable legal standards for sexual harassment, ”MCU lawyers wrote in court documents.
Lawyers for the MCU also pointed out that Akpe-Lewis waited 13 years after the alleged sexual advances began in 2007 to file his complaint last year, noting that in New York, allegations of sexual harassment are to be filed in every three years.
Akpe-Lewis’s retaliation claims should also be dismissed, according to MCU lawyers.
While she reportedly rejected Wong’s advances as early as October 2007, she was not fired until June 2019 and suffered no alleged adverse action until at least eight years later in 2015, when she started complaining about his bonus cuts.
“No facts are alleged to link these adverse actions to the alleged rejection of Wong’s advances,” the MCU’s lawyers wrote. “Thus, neither did the plaintiff allege sufficient facts to formulate a quid pro quo harassment claim.”
Regarding Akpe-Lewis’s allegations against Kohn, lawyers argue that she again failed to provide specific facts.
Lawyers for the MCU are also calling for the dismissal of Akpe-Lewis’s claims against those named as defendants, as it included almost no factual details to support an individual liability claim against them or that they were involved in a wrongdoing.
Akpe-Lewis’ lawsuit was filed in federal court in June 2020 around the same time the MCU and its curator, the NCUA, sued CUMIS Insurance Society for failing to pay a temporary insurance claim of $ 9.8 million to cover losses from widespread fraud and corruption. scandal that led to the MCU tutelage. The lawsuit, originally filed in May 2020, revealed details and allegations of endemic wrongdoing at MCU involving not only Wong, but at least five senior executives, two members of the oversight committee and 13 former board members. , which led to over $ 18 million in losses and $ 109 million in impairment losses.
Akpe-Lewis has not been charged with any wrongdoing in this lawsuit, which was recently settled.