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Supervisor’s Comments at Issue in Lawsuit Against E-LOAN

Supervisor’s Comments at Issue in Lawsuit Against E-LOANPlaintiffs claim pattern of severe harassment

November 9, 2005

Washington, D.C., correspondent for

A San Francisco-area online lender is being sued for anti-gay and anti-ethnic statements allegedly made by a company supervisor.The lawsuit alleges that African-American, Latin and gay employees regularly and publicly faced the ire of an E-LOAN supervisor.

The plaintiffs claim the supervisor “engaged in a pattern of severe and pervasive harassment and verbal abuse by regularly making offensive and derogatory remarks, insults and jokes” based on race and sexual orientation.

The supervisor “bragged and joked how, at a prior job, she ridiculed a transgender employee to the point where the employee eventually committed suicide,” the plaintiffs, current and former underwriters, said.

They allegedly complained to higher-ups of her abusive behavior, but the company failed to take action.

The lawsuit says that the supervisor initially worked for E-LOAN’s auto division in Jacksonville, Fla. After closing the Jacksonville office, the company transferred her to California where she was put in charge of the auto loan department.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based E-LOAN, formerly a publicly traded Internet lender that has since been acquired by Popular Inc., originates mortgage and home equity loans.

Tiffany Fox, an E-LOAN spokeswoman, said that it was “inappropriate” to comment on the impending litigation.

But Keith K. Fong, the plaintiffs’ attorney, noted the supervisor is still with E-LOAN and that, shortly before the filing of the lawsuit, she received a promotion.

“This is 2005 and we’re talking about a company that is based in the San Francisco-Bay Area where, of all places, it is known for its diversity and tolerance,” said Fong. “It’s really unbelievable that this is going on.”

The plaintiffs have asked for compensatory and punitive damages, unpaid overtime compensation and attorneys’ fees and costs.

“Work is stressful enough. The last thing you need is to go there and feel this level of harassment where people hate you because of who you are,” Fong said.

Lisa D. Burden is a legal analyst for and holds a law degree from the University of Maryland. She is currently a freelance journalist who previously wrote for Institutional Investor publications and the Baltimore Daily Record.

e-mail Lisa at:

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