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Former JLL Employee Alleges Sex Harassment, Securities Fraud

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 17, 2019

As general counsel should know, an employee-employer interview starts much differently than an attorney-client interview. When a prospective employee first meets with a company representative, it's all about finding a good fit. When an employment attorney meets with a prospective plaintiff, it's about a finding a good way to sue.

That's how shotgun lawsuits sometimes begin. A plaintiff's attorney needs just one pellet to pierce the corporation's defense. In Los Angeles, one plaintiff is taking her best shot at JLL, the commercial real estate company.

Sexual Harassment

Amanda Ly, who worked at JLL's Los Angeles office several months last year, says the company "perpetrated a corrupt culture that valued profits over basic decency and that was hostile, offensive, and belittling." In her case, that culture translated to securities fraud and sexual harassment.

She started in September as a distribution banker at the North America Global Funds Advisory division. She said problems started two weeks after she got there. In October, two clients allegedly asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life during an outing at a bar. Ly says her supervisor told her to take clients out "to afford them the chance to try and interest (her) in having sex with them, or simply to allow them to sexually amuse themselves at her expense."

Ly complained to her supervisor's boss, but was told to "work around" him. Ly said the boss later reproached her for bringing up the issue because the supervisor had a track record of raising money for clients.

Securities Fraud

In her complaint, Ly also claims her supervisor told her to illegally solicit investment funds for a client. She didn't have a securities license to do that, she says, and her supervisor knew it. The supervisor also told her to lie, she alleges, about how much money had already been invested in the fund in order to solicitor more investors. JLL terminated Ly in December, and reportedly completed an internal investigation in January. The company said Ly's claims "could not be substantiated," but Ly said the company didn't question her about the incidents.  

"JLL takes pride in its reputation for integrity and support of its employees," the company said in a statement. "We plan to defend ourselves vigorously against these baseless and unfounded claims."

In any case, the company probably should have thoroughly investigated Ly's claims before terminating her. That's the difference between an investigator's interview and an exit interview, as general counsel should know.

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