Lockton faces lawsuit alleging ‘culture’ of sexual harassment

A former data employee for the Lockton Pacific Series has filed a lawsuit alleging she was regularly subjected to sexual harassment over 15 years by executives, including the chief executive of the series, Tim Noonan. 

The worker, who was married to another former Lockton analytics employee, described numerous incidents in her complaint during which Noonan and partners in the Los Angeles office made disparaging, racist or sexual comments about her in front of colleagues. 

She described instances of being groped or slapped on the buttocks, as well as one occasion in which Noonan “forcibly kissed her on the lips” in an elevator, and another in which he briefly locked her in his office. 

The worker, who is of East Asian descent, also claimed she was teased about her ethnicity in sexually harassing manner, with Lockton partner Mark Carlin referring to her as an “Asian schoolgirl” in multiple instances. 

The issues began not long after she started her employment in 2003, she said. Harassment continued over the years as the worker battled rectal cancer, with Carlin repeatedly joking that she would be unable to have “anal sex”, according to the complaint. 

“Lockton’s culture countenancing sexual harassment and vulgar jokes started at the top”, the woman said in her 55-page complaint filed 30 January in Los Angeles county court. The case, filed against the Pacific Series of Lockton as well as Noonan and Carlin, remains pending. 

In a letter to its producers and associates, executive chairman David Lockton, president and CEO Ronald Lockton and US president and COO Peter Clune said the broker has retained an independent lawyer, Ann Fromholz, to investigate the woman’s allegations. 

“Make no mistake – the conduct alleged is simply inconsistent with who we are as a company, and we are taking this former employee’s allegations very seriously,” the Lockton top executives wrote. 

They said they have made clear to Fromholz “that her job is to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation of the allegations and prepare an associated report”. 

We feel it is critical that the investigation proceed independently and to a fair result for all involved.” 

The executives said the worker “did not inform us of these allegations before the lawsuit was filed”. 

In her complaint, the former data employee alleged that she reported some of her harassment concerns to another Lockton executive about a manager, David Jones. He had sent the woman an email during a conference call saying “do you swallow,” which the woman interpreted to refer to a sex act, according to the complaint. 

The executive told her that her concerns were forwarded to human resources, and that the incident had been noted in a personnel file for Jones, according to the complaint. 

The woman alleged that she later learned from a human resources representative that no such note was made in the file. 

Noonan, Carlin and Jones did not respond to LinkedIn messages seeking comment. A representative for Lockton responded on Carlin's behalf and said he "echoes the sentiments in the letter to all US Associates, but beyond that he will not be providing a comment". 

The woman alleged that both she and her husband complained numerous times informally when harassing comments were made. 

She stated that she was afraid to formally report her concerns to the Lockton Ethics Committee for fear of her employment being terminated and losing health coverage for her cancer treatments. 

After being praised for their help with clients and their analytics work throughout June 2018, the woman said she and her husband were abruptly terminated in July 2018. They were told the jobs were eliminated because of “downsizing and workforce reduction” but that no other jobs had been cut, according to the complaint. 

A representative for Lockton declined to comment further on the case.