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Goldman Sachs Intern Claims Company Encouraged Hazing Culture

In a lawsuit that decries the “fraternity culture” at Goldman Sachs, a former intern says he suffered a traumatic brain injury after being choked to unconsciousness by one of its wealth advisers. 

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – In a lawsuit that decries the “fraternity culture” at Goldman Sachs, a former intern says he suffered a traumatic brain injury after being choked to unconsciousness by one of its wealth advisers. 

Patrick Blumenthal, then a student at Drexel University, took an internship with Goldman Sachs’ San Francisco office in September 2017. He was assigned to work on the self-titled “Team 007,” which was led by private wealth adviser Julius “Fast Julie” Erukhimov.

In his lawsuit, filed Friday but withheld from the court until Monday, Blumenthal describes Erukhimov as physically aggressive, with a “habit of getting drunk and punching people.” Blumenthal says that despite being underage, he was pressured to drink heavily at company events and was often mocked by employees and called a “pussy” for not drinking fast enough.

He said he told Michelle Kelly, the woman who hired him, about the harassment he was experiencing and asked to be placed on another team but Kelly made no attempt to fix the situation or transfer him.

Blumenthal said the hazing culminated in a brutal attack by Erukhimov on February 9, 2018 during one of the company’s mandatory bar outings. A group of about ten or twelve Goldman Sachs employees, including Blumenthal, were drinking at a restaurant in the Financial District called Sauce and Erukhimov got “belligerently drunk,” according to the suit.   

He allegedly started pounding on the bar, telling Blumenthal he would “teach him how to drink,” and punched Blumenthal in the stomach. Erukhimov exhorted Blumenthal to punch him back, and when he would not Erukhimov began “aggressively wrestling” Blumenthal, pushing him from the bar to the outside patio. He then put Blumenthal in a chokehold, the suit states, and pushed him up against a brick wall in an alleyway where Blumenthal could not escape.

“Plaintiff was held so long he thought he was going to die,” his lawsuit says. "None of the Goldman Sachs employees, including the senior managers and managing agents, made any attempt to help plaintiff or to stop Julius from continuing the chokehold. They simply sat and watched the brutal attack unfold.” 

Eventually Blumenthal passed out and urinated on himself, at which point Erukhimov allegedly threw him to the ground. Blumenthal cracked his head on the concrete patio. The lawsuit says a Sauce employee gave him some ice for his head, but other than that, no one acknowledged what had happened.

At his apartment, Erukhimov gave Blumenthal four pain relievers and allegedly told him not to tell management, saying that his uncle and cousin were contract killers for Russian oligarchs, something Erukhimov had boasted about before.  

Blumenthal says Erukhimov regularly talked about his massive gun collection and often spoke of his relatives’ violent predilections, recounting stories of how his cousin put a nightclub bouncer into a vegetative state simply for asking him not to stand on a table, and how his uncle had nearly decapitated someone with piano wire. Blumenthal believed it all, so he said nothing. 

Two days later he was hospitalized from a hemorrhagic stroke.

Because of his injuries, Blumenthal claims he was unable to return to his internship or to school. Despite his fears that Erukhimov would have him killed, Blumenthal says he sent an email a month after the attack to Kimberly Vivas, a business manager at Goldman Sachs, with an attached letter detailing the incident but Vivas said he should contact Aime Hendricks from human resources in Goldman Sachs' New York Office. He did, and according to his complaint, Hendricks responded a month later, saying: “We have taken actions we have deemed appropriate."

Blumenthal says nothing came of his report. 

In an email, a Goldman Sachs spokesman said the company is continuing to look into the matter.

“This incident between two former employees happened at a bar after work. When it came to our attention we investigated immediately and took action, including to ensure the plaintiff was receiving medical care," the spokesman said. "We have tried unsuccessfully to obtain more information from the plaintiff about his injuries, both then and now. We are committed to maintaining a safe and welcoming workplace – the alleged behavior does not reflect our values.”

The spokesman added Erukhimov no longer works at Goldman Sachs.

Blumenthal is seeking an unspecified amount in punitive damages against Goldman Sachs for allegedly encouraging a culture where employees bully subordinate interns with impunity.

“When Goldman Sachs personnel, managers, and managing agents saw plaintiff being brutally beaten by Julius, not a single person attempted to stop the attack. They simply let it unfold right in front of their eyes as if it was nothing out of the ordinary.  It was simply part of the culture that Goldman Sachs was tolerating and even fostering,” Blumenthal’s lawsuit states. "Even worse, no one, including the managers and managing agents who were present, called an ambulance in the aftermath of the event. Instead, they let Julius take plaintiff home, where he was further tormented and threatened with death.” 

The complaint claims bullying is par for the course at Goldman Sachs, citing an instance in which first-year associates “were forced to dress up as Teletubbies and hug their superiors.” 

News reports of Wall Street hazing abound. The Independent reported in 2012 that interns are routinely grilled about Goldman Sachs history and the stock market, sometimes to the point of tears. In 2011, Business Insider ran an item that describes how former Goldman Sachs Chief Operating Officer John Thorton once threatened to “personally slit the throats of all my team and drink their blood.”

Lawsuits from 2010 and 2015 detail an office culture where women are sexualized and harassed as a matter of course – in one instance a woman was demoted after reporting her sexual assault by a male co-worker. 

In his book "Money and Power,” William Cohen recounts how a group of new recruits were ordered to report to a 5 p.m. meeting on the Friday before Memorial Day. When the partner who called the meeting showed up five hours later at 10 p.m., those who had left were promptly fired. The partner said the fake meeting was a test to see who had "the right attitude.”

Blumenthal is represented by personal injury lawyers William Green and Kailyn Sharp with Delfino Green & Green in San Rafael, Calif. 

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