A former director of equal employment opportunity for the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday told a federal court the commission failed to take employment discrimination complaints seriously.

Phillip Savage, who served as director of the commission's equal employment opportunity office from 1976 through 1984, told the court, "it was made clear to me there was no intent to ever find discrimination occurred at the SEC."

Savage was the final witness for Catherine A. Broderick, an SEC employe who has sued the commission for sexual harassment and discrimination. The case is being tried by U.S. District Judge John H. Pratt.

Broderick has accused the agency of sexual harassment and discrimination while working at the Washington regional office of the SEC in Arlington. She said the managers at the regional office failed to promote her because she refused to participate in partying and sexual relationships in the office and complained about them.

Ernest B. Miller Jr., who currently heads the EEO operation at the SEC, testified last week there was a backlog of EEO complaints when Savage left the commission because the chairman's office failed to give Savage the authority or personnel to handle complaints.

Savage testified yesterday that while he had met regularly with former SEC chairmen Roderick Hills and Harold Williams during their tenure, former chairman John Shad, who recently became ambassador to the Netherlands, never met with him in the three years they worked together. Savage said he made repeated requests to speak with Shad after Broderick filed an EEO complaint in February 1984.

The SEC ruled against Broderick in June of 1986 on the grounds that she failed to establish she had been subjected to a sexually harassing environment that affected her ability to function. Broderick could not file a civil action against the SEC until the final EEO decision was issued.

Savage, said he was allowed to report directly to the chairman of the agency after he filed a complaint against the SEC, but shortly before he left the agency, his office was moved from a location next to the chairman's office to the basement of the building.

"There's a white male syndrome at the commission...that tends to wink their eyes at this sort of thing," Savage said of Broderick's complaint. Savage is black. "There was no doubt these things were going on, but they didn't do anything to the people involved."

Broderick's suit names Paul F. Leonard, Herbert F. Brooks Jr., James C. Kennedy, John L. Hunter and L. Hilton Foster, all former managers of the Washington regional office of the SEC. The Washington regional office was closed and consolidated with the Philadelphia regional office in May of last year as part of cost-cutting measures, according to an SEC spokesman. All of the managers named in Broderick's suit are still employed by the SEC except Leonard, who retired as regional administrator of the Washington regional office in August 1985, according to court testimony.

In addition to an EEO investigation, Broderick's complaint also prompted an ethics inquiry into allegations involving misuse of government property, government funds, excessive drinking on the job and the granting of cash awards and other employment benefits on the basis of sex at the Washington regional office.

Pratt has ruled that the findings of the ethics investigation are not admissible in this case and the commission has not disclosed them.

The ethics investigation was conducted by the SEC's ethics counsel, Myrna Siegel, assisted by Benjamin Greenspoon, who is defending the SEC against Broderick's suit.

The SEC has denied that the incidents that occurred at the Washington regional office constituted a sexually harassing environment and have said that Broderick, who is an attorney in the office of the general counsel at the commission, has not been promoted from her GS-13 position because of a combination of poor work, tardiness and poor communications with supervisors.

Karen Wagner, director of Working Women's Institute in New York, also testified as an expert witness for Broderick yesterday.

She said there was a consistent pattern of sex harassment in the Washington regional office of the SEC and that even if there had never been any direct sexual overtures to Broderick, she still would have been a victim of sex harassment because of the atmosphere there.