Former JLL employee sues alleging toxic “boys club”

Former capital markets director Mo Beler accused of creating a hostile atmosphere

TRD New York /
Aug.August 12, 2020 01:30 PM
A former associate in JLL’s New York City office alleges she was fired after speaking up about what she called a toxic “boys club.”

Tiffany Catalini — who said she was the only woman in out of more than 15 production associates — filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court Tuesday alleging her career at JLL was stymied and ultimately terminated because of the company’s sexist culture.

Catalini said the problem started in 2017 when JLL hired Mo Beler as director of the capital markets group. Catalini, 46, said in court papers that she had enjoyed five years of professional growth at JLL up until that time, rising to the position of production associate where she was promised a $100,000 retention bonus. Bisnow first reported the news of the suit.

But when Beler came on board, Catalini claims, the atmosphere changed.

“Beler routinely engaged in sexist ‘locker room’ banter with his male colleagues, such as calling his coworkers — and ridiculing his clients as — ‘cocksuckers,’ shouting at his coworkers to ‘suck his dick,’ and making constant references to ‘blow jobs’ and masturbation,” her complaint alleges.

Beler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for JLL said the company takes “such allegations very seriously. JLL has a recognized track record for its integrity and ethical approach to business and supporting its employees.”

Catalini said in the complaint that Beler relegated her to menial tasks like fetching his lunch and getting his clean clothes instead of doing her actual job responsibilities like marketing properties, reaching out to investors and managing her group’s deal-tracking database.

She alleges she complained to her supervisors — Glenn Tolchin, Anthony Ledesma and Yoav Oelsner — but that they seemed powerless to stop Beler. Tolchin, Ledesma and Oelsner all declined to comment.

The associate claimed JLL in 2018 failed to pay the first $50,000 installment of her retention bonus, instead giving her a performance bonus of $25,000.

She said in the complaint that the following year her supervisors recommended she get another $25,000 performance bonus, but that Beler overruled them and she received only $10,000 — a figure she said was significantly smaller than her male colleagues’ bonuses.

Beler left JLL in 2019, but Catalni alleges he had done permanent damage to her career. She said she was later offered a dead-end job as an administrative assistant and was fired in March of this year, even though she was in the running for positions in other groups at the company.

Catalini is suing for unspecified damages to be determined at trial.

Beler recently joined Walker & Dunlop. A spokesperson for the company said Walker & Dunlop takes the allegations “very seriously.”

“We will handle this matter accordingly and in compliance with our personnel and HR policies,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

While Catalini’s allegations are specific to her experience at JLL, systemic sexism and discrimination are problems at companies across the real estate industry. After Harvey Weinstein’s case broke open the #MeToo movement in 2017, some real estate firms have said they’ve revisited internal policies.

Contact Rich Bockmann at [email protected] or 908-415-5229


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