The wife of a San Francisco 49ers player has filed a federal suit claiming racial and sexual harassment at her former New York workplace, a financial firm she likened to a “Wolf of Wall Street”-style office.
According to published reports, Philippa Okoye, wife of reserve player Lawrence Okoye, claims she was taunted about her interracial relationship and sexually harassed at the financial consultancy firm deVere Group in Manhattan. The suit claims that when she complained, she was demoted and eventually fired.
Okoye said when she was hired as a senior investment advisor in 2013, she was the only woman in the office which included 20 men. When she objected to the crude manner her co-workers treated female visitors to the office, she claims deVere CEO Benjamin Alderson told that was why he didn’t want women in the office.
Okoye alleges Alderson, “made it known that he wanted to model the office on the ‘Boiler Room’ and ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ films” which portray male-dominated investment firms using “highly offensive language and engaged in extremely inappropriate conduct, including sexual harassment and drug and alcohol use in the workplace.”
She also claims in the lawsuit that she was openly mocked for dating a black man and said Alderson asked her, “So Philippa, how many cheerleaders has your boyfriend f—– today?”
The suit also claims a co-worker told her, “I think it’s disgusting when white women go out with black guys.”
Another worker allegedly told her, “Don’t change your surname [to Okoye] if you marry Lawrence, because people will think you’re black,’’ while Anderson allegedly chimed in “Yeah, and that’s not good for business.’’
The couple are originally from England. Lawrence Okoye was a teenage rugby star who became a discus record holder and represented England in the 2012 Olympics.
He signed with the 49ers in 2013 and spent his first season on the injured reserve list. He was signed to the practice squad last year.
The deVere Group issued a statement denying the claims which they say were issued by a disgruntled former employee. The company also said it will work to clear the names of those wrongly accused in court.