A former intern of Indian descent is suing Transamerica Financial Advisors for alleged discrimination based on her gender and national origin.
Hitakshi Lahrani, who was born in India, started working for the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based dually registered broker-dealer and RIA in April last year, according to the lawsuit she filed on March 12.
Lahrani, a 35-year-old mathematics Ph.D. candidate, was paid on an hourly basis for a position she was meant to hold for one year, according to the lawsuit she filed in a federal court in Florida.
In September 2019, she was instructed to help arrange a retirement party for a director in the firm, the lawsuit states.
During that event, held on Sept. 6, 2019, the director made discriminatory comments, such as: "These Indians work a lot;" "A lot of Indians come over here to work because they don’t have water to drink in India;" and "They [Indians] will take your work and everything else," according to Lahrani’s lawsuit.
Another supervisor nodded his head in agreement to those comments, the lawsuit alleges.
Transamerica then refused to compensate Lahrani for arranging and attending the party, even though a male intern was compensated for the same work, the lawsuit alleges. The male intern also received more favorable treatment — such as invites to meetings and access to remote access tools, the lawsuit alleges.
The firm terminated Lahrani seven days after the retirement party and after she requested payment for those hours, the lawsuit alleges. She is seeking back pay and compensatory damages based on the bias claims as well as breach of contract for her unpaid wages.
Transamerica did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
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