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Judge To HSBC: No You Can't Fire A Couple Of Employees For Blowing The Whistle On Sexual Harassment And Then Read Their Wives' Emails

Nice try though.
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Remember Michael Picarella? Former HSBC employee who, along with colleague James Rist, reported his boss, Eileen Hedges, for (alleged!) sexual harassment of a female subordinate? Sexual harassment that included telling the subordinate to dress provocatively on the job, to “have sex with male HSBC executives and clients at company-sponsored events,” and attempting to pull down her top “and expose her breasts in the presence of male HSBC employees”? And was subsequently locked out of his work computer, and then his office, and then paid a $0 bonus, and then fired via snail mail? HSBC now wants access to his wife's emails. Not gonna get 'em, but the request wasn't entirely for naught, as it gave Judge Andrew J. Peck a good laugh.

The bank wanted to go through the e-mail accounts of the wives of James Rist and Michael Picarella, the two former HSBC bankers, because they had the “practical ability to access the information,” Damien Marshal, an outside lawyer for HSBC, said during a conference at Manhattan federal court last week. Picarella and Rist both said that they didn’t use their wives’ accounts to discuss any litigation. Marshal argued that because Picarella registered an e-mail address in his wife’s name, it was fair game for lawyers to search through. But Federal Judge Andrew J. Peck didn’t buy it. “You’ll have to subpoena the wife,” Judge Peck told Marshal. “No. Sorry. Lots of luck. No. The request is denied.”

Better luck next time?

HSBC wants to look into emails of whistleblowers’ wives [NYP]


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