Rodman settles two harassment charges from former employees

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CHICAGO -- Rodman & Renshaw Inc. has settled two sexual harassment complaints that last year cost the firm a spot on the underwriting team for an Illinois bond issue.

Charles Daggs 3d, Rodman's president and chief executive officer, confirmed yesterday that the Chicago-based firm settled two complaints lodged by former female employees.

"We had two complaints, and the person resonsible for them had been let go a long time ago, and we wanted to get that behind us," Daggs said, declining to name the person.

Both Daggs and Mary Stowell, the attorney for former Rodman employees Susan Jaskowski, who had been human resoruces director, and Jeannine Finley, a former sales and trading assistant, declined to discuss details of the settlement. The two cases had been pending before the U.S. District Court in Chicago.

"My only comment is the cases have been resolved," Stowell said.

Last August, James Montana, chief legal counsel to Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois, dropped Rodman from the underwriting team for a $150 million bond issue after learning of the complaints. Turmoil at the firm regarding a possible merger or acquisition also played a role in Montana'a decision.

At the time, Rodman officials said they were fighting the changes. The officials claimed that the state was treating Rodman differently than other firms, which might be subject to similar complaints that were not as publicized.

Daggs said he hoped the settlements will help Rodman obtain future state bond business.

"There's a new management team here now and no room from our perspective to put up with that kind of behavior," he said.

Three other complaints against Rodman remain unresolved. Stowell said a sexual harassment complaint filed by a current female Rodman employee is still pending before the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

A sexual harassment complaint filed by another former Rodman employee, Linda Tienda, was reinstated by the Illinois department of human rights earlier this year after being dismissed by the commission in December on grounds of lack of substantial evidence, according to Joanne Kinnoy, Tienda's attorney.

Also pending is a racial discrimination complaint filed by Keith Weatherspoon, a former first vice president in public finance at Rodman, who is black. Jeff Harris, Weatherspoon's attorney, said yesterday that he and his client have not been contacted by Rodman regarding a settlement.

Daggs said he did not know the status of the remaining complaints.

The news of the settlements in the sexual harassment complaints against Rodman was "welcome," Harris said.

"I'm sure the new owners of Rodman want to put those things behind them," he said.

In December, ABACO Casa de Bolsa, a subsidiary of ABACO Grupo Financiero of Monterrey, Mexico, acquired 51% of Rodman's stock. A month later, the new owners instituted a management shakeup, firing four top executives, including Norman Mains, the president and chief executive officer, and Mark Grant, an executive vice president and head of the fixed-income department. Grant was named in at least two of the sexual harassment complaints and was referred to in the racial discrimination complaint. In March, Daggs took over as the firm's head.

Last month, Rodman, which lost a number of people over the past year in its municipal bond department, including all of its public finance executives, began hiring people in the sales, trading, and research areas. The firm also named three executives to head up the municipal operation. One of the executives, Lewis Hodge, said the firm is gearing up to interview candidates to head up public finance.

Yesterday, Rodman announced the hiring of Donna LoCascio as vice president and director of municipal research. LoCascio came to Rodman from Tucker Anthony Inc. Meanwhile, Thomas Basehart, formerly a Rodman senior vice president in charge of the municipal operation, left the firm last month to join the Chicago office of Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. Basehart said he is a vice president at Alex. Brown, and is involved with institutional sales. He said the firms plans to add four to five new sales people to the office by the end of the summer.

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Sexual harassment