December 8, 2014 – Executives at CTPartners, including its chairman and CEO, Brian M. Sullivan, are subject to a damning sexual discrimination complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The filing alleges the global executive search firm to be a “den of discrimination where women are stripped of profitable accounts, held to a higher standard by their male colleagues and subjected to lewd behavior.” Promiscuous activity and sexual impropriety, according to the complaint and first reported by The New York Post, occurred during a night of bacchanalia at the Florida residence of Mr. Sullivan in May 2012. The filing alleges that Mr. Sullivan “ripped off his clothes along with other partners,” a complaint corroborated by former workers who witnessed the event, and that he “and at least three other top executives shed their clothes, formed a rugby-like scrum, and ran into the ocean.” The complaint stated that “women routinely were stripped of profitable accounts, which were handed to male colleagues; they were also held to a higher standard for performance and were let go even if they brought in more money than male counterparts.” When this female employee reported the matter to the firm’s vice chairman, Burke St. John, he dismissed the matter over a “language barrier” despite the fact that her first language is English. Mr. St. John was also cited in the EEOC compliant, accused of “boorish behavior” for calling women into his Sixth Avenue office to talk about how the shadows on the buildings outside looked like “penises,” according to one of the female employees who filed the complaint. One former employee said that CTPartners’ New York office alone had more than 12 different sexual harassment complaints brought internally in 2012. This complaint, brought to the attention of the EEOC, was compiled around the allegations of three to four former female employees last April. All complainants in the case are understood to have moved on to other search firms. Publicly-traded CTPartners, with 44 offices in 24 countries, was ranked as the seventh largest U.S. search firm by HSZ Media in 2014. Its shares plummeted 24 percent yesterday on news of the EEOC complaint, a day in which Mr. Sullivan sought an ill-timed sale of more than 400,000 shares of common stock. Calls to CTPartners for comment were not returned. Under federal law, complaints filed with the EEOC are confidential while the agency decides whether to pursue a suit. The EEOC offered no comment to requests for additional information.
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