A former CrossCountry Mortgage employee accused her immediate superior at a branch in Georgia of sexual harassment and said the mortgage company retaliated against her after she lodged complaints with the human resources department and federal authorities.
Christina Nielsen, a former processor, claims that during her employment at CrossCountry, Alpharetta branch manager Steven Bocca subjected her to sexual comments, touched her without consent and made inappropriate solicitations. According to the lawsuit, six other female employees were victims of sexual harassment by Bocca. A list with their names is attached to the suit.
A representative for CrossCountry and Christina Nielsen’s attorney did not return a request for comments. Bocca and Nielsen did not respond to interview requests.
The lawsuit states that Nielsen filed a sexual harassment and retaliation complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on May 20, 2022. On February 24, 2023, Nielsen received a notice of the right to sue. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.
According to the lawsuit, Nielsen joined the Alpharetta, Georgia branch at CrossCountry in July 2018 as a loan processor, following 15 years of experience in the mortgage industry. After two and a half years, she began working under Bocca’s supervision and had more daily interactions with him as branch manager, the lawsuit states.
“Plaintiff began to notice that Bocca’s leadership style was to intimidate, manipulate, and verbally abuse, and he commonly sexually harassed his female staff,” Nielsen’s attorney wrote in the lawsuit.
Nielsen claims that, on several occasions, Bocca made sexually inappropriate comments to her, indicating that she was “hot” and he wanted to have sexual relations with her. If Nielsen did not respond or tried to create boundaries, Bocca would say that engaging sexually with him would “make things all better” for her, the lawsuit claims.
On two separate occasions, Nielsen alleged Bocca tried to put her hand on his genitals. The lawsuit states that in April 2022, Bocca was “intoxicated,” “grabbed the plaintiff’s buttock and pulled her toward him.”
The alleged episode in April resulted in Nielsen calling CrossCountry’s HR department in May in the presence of three other co-workers. Nielsen stated that she was looking to resign and complained about sexual harassment against Bocca, per the lawsuit.
Nielsen, who was sent home for the remainder of the week, alleges that she did not resign. During the call, HR said they would investigate the case and send her instructions to work from home, the lawsuit states.
An email from an HR staffer attached to the lawsuit states that CCM had begun an investigation and was interviewing employees as of May 21, 2022.
“Although privacy considerations limit our ability to share confidential information with you about other employees, we can communicate we are taking the appropriate action,” the HR email states.
However, per the lawsuit, the company never investigated Bocca’s alleged systemic sexual harassment, nor were other women questioned.
Nielsen claims she filed an EEOC charge and CCM cut the access to her email, ending her ability to work remotely.
“On July 5, 2022, Plaintiff was informed that CCM had accepted her termination during the Call on May 18 and that her last day of pay would be July 1, 2022,” the lawsuit states. “CCM had no basis to fire Plaintiff except for retaliation from her complaint of sexual harassment.”
According to the lender’s website, Bocca remains a branch manager at CrossCountry in Georgia.
Nielsen seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, liquidated damages, and attorney’s fees and costs.