Wafra and Former Executive Lively Sued in Sexual-Harassment Case

(Bloomberg) -- Kuwait-backed Wafra Inc. and its former head of real estate Francis P. Lively were sued in a Manhattan federal court by an executive at the closely held investment company who claims she was subjected to sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

The complaint filed Thursday by Sabine Kraut includes additional allegations from a separate filing in June with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She alleges that Lively -- her direct superior from 2012 until his departure in April -- made a “barrage” of unsolicited and unwanted advances, as well as deprived her of promotions and credit.

Kraut has said that the harassment occurred for at least six years. She alleged that Lively sent her handwritten notes such as one stating “I think you are as hot as a firecracker” that included a physical firecracker enclosed in an envelope. Among the new allegations: Lively told Kraut he had been aroused by the notion that she might not be wearing underwear.

Kraut says in the new complaint that Wafra retaliated after she objected to the harassment, removing her most significant job responsibilities and excluded her from correspondence, communications and meetings, which “set her up to fail” in at least one deal scenario.

“Wafra is committed to a safe and welcoming environment for all of our team members,” a spokesman for the New York-based firm said in a statement in June. “We were made aware of these allegations for the first time in the middle of April 2018. Following an immediate internal investigation, Wafra took appropriate action.”

William A. Brewer III, a lawyer for Lively, said in October that “our client takes these claims seriously, but firmly denies the allegations.”

“In an approximately 40-year professional career, there is nothing Mr. Lively took more seriously than treating his colleagues with respect and courtesy, and that includes Ms. Kraut,” Brewer said. “Any further action against our client would serve as an unfortunate and misguided attempt to resurrect false allegations.”

The firm replaced Lively with Yvonne Compitello, who Kraut described as a “close personal friend” of Lively. “Wafra’s termination of Mr. Lively did not adequately correct the impact of Mr. Lively’s sexual harassment because of subsequent and ongoing retaliation by Wafra and its employees,” according to the complaint.

The case is Kraut v. Wafra Inc. et al, 1:18-cv-11155, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.