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Revealed: Fidelity International director investigated over harassment claims

A former Fidelity International female employee is claiming compensation against the asset manager following an alleged case of harassment from senior management, Money Marketing can reveal.

The employee, who we will name Mrs A, and who used to be based at one of Fidelity’s offices in India, was sent an employment termination letter on 14 March this year after discussing a number of health conditions with her human resources department.

Mrs A  says she injured herself in a car accident last July while on duty. Since then she was only able to go to work intermittently.

Speaking to Money Marketing, the employee claims that a few months after starting her role at Fidelity in August 2016, she became the victim of harassing and bullying behaviour from a manager.

The manager, who we will call Mr B, is currently a director at the firm.

Fidelity has confirmed that an investigation against Mr B was opened this week.

The woman was an associate director for Fidelity’s UK pension unit operating out of India.

Money Marketing has seen email exchanges between Mrs A, Fidelity International executives and senior HR and recruitment managers including medical documentation declaring her poor health conditions after the accident.

In the emails, Mrs A claims her manager had made inappropriate comments on her personal life while outside of the office, such as questioning why she wasn’t planning to get pregnant with a second child.

The director allegedly pushed her to have drinks with him and others in the team and bullied her on group chats seen by Money Marketing.

One email suggests that the director had been reported multiple times to other senior staff at Fidelity over his harassing behaviour of female staff in the past.

In a letter addressed to Fidelity International chairwoman and chief executive of Fidelity Investments Abby Johnson from Mrs A, she claims that the director took projects away from her after becoming aware of the HR reports.

Sexual harassment in funds industry climbs

Mrs A was offered a voluntarily termination from the company, which she refused. She was then offered three months salary when sent her employment termination, she claims.

No other monetary compensation was offered for the physical and mental damages resulted from the car accident or the alleged harassment.

Fidelity HR staff only responded to the woman’s numerous emails after she contacted the company’s boss directly.

One email chain dated 26 March shows that Fidelity International chief administrative officer Sally Nelson acknowledged the woman’s frustrations on behalf of chief executive Johnson.

Nelson said the matter was being given “appropriate focus” by senior management.

“Concerned and sympathetic”

A Fidelity International spokeswoman says the company has been “concerned and sympathetic” towards the ill health suffered by the woman following her accident.

Fidelity has been working with Mrs A during the period of absence “on full pay” to provide medical support.

The spokeswoman says: “We have only very recently been provided by the individual with the specific information regarding claims of harassment which we are of course now looking into with a matter of urgency.

“An internal investigation has been started this week and is in the process of being conducted, so we are not in a position to comment further at this stage.”

Fidelity Investments, the US arm of Fidelity International, has already faced sexual harassment and bullying accusation a year ago, uncovered by the Wall Street Journal, which led to the ousting of high-profile employees.

Johnson, who started her role at the fund group in 2014 taking over from her father Edward, has been vocal on the firm’s zero tolerance approach on such behaviours.

The Fidelity spokeswoman says: “At Fidelity International we take all allegations of harassment, in any form, extremely seriously. We have a well-defined dignity at work policy, the purpose of which is to promote and encourage respect for colleagues and others.

“Accordingly, employee behaviour or conduct which involves the harassment of any fellow employee is seen as unacceptable and not tolerated. We encourage all our employees to speak out on this topic should it arise. We have a confidential ethics and workplace alert line run by an independent third party that provides an alternative route for employees who want to raise any issues themselves or on someone else’s behalf in absolute confidence.”

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