Washington Post Staff Writer

After more than seven days of testimony in what could be a landmark sexual harassment and discrimination suit against the Securities and Exchange Commission, attorneys on both sides finished on much the same note they began.

"I think we demonstrated she has a personality disorder," Benjamin Greenspoon, assistant general counsel of the SEC, said of Catherine A. Broderick, who brought the suit. "She was not discriminated against. Certainly, there was testimony of a love affair and some laxness in running the office, but that's not discrimination."

Broderick's case is the first instance of a "work environment on trial," said S. Beville May, Broderick's attorney. "The atmosphere in the office was so polluted she couldn't get ahead. She stands in the shoes of each of the women who suffered from that environment."

According to May, a decision in Broderick's favor would set a precedent because it would demonstrate that an atmosphere of sexual harassment in an office violates the law.

Broderick, a 36-year-old attorney at the SEC, alleges that from 1979 to 1984, the atmosphere of the Washington Regional Office of the SEC was poisoned by incidents that included affairs between managers and employes and the awarding of promotions and cash awards to those employes involved with the managers.

U.S. District Court Judge John H. Pratt yesterday dispensed with closing arguments in the case and asked instead that attorneys for each side submit briefs on what constitutes sexual harassment.

Broderick's complaint also alleges that, because she complained about the actions of supervisors, she was transferred and denied promotions and her performance evaluations were affected. In August 1984, Broderick was told that if her performance did not improve, she would be fired.

SEC managers testified this week that Broderick's transfers were justified because her work was unsatisfactory, she resisted authority and she was difficult to supervise.

Broderick filed a complaint with the agency's EEO office in February 1984. The final decision in that complaint, rendered in June 1986, found that "all in all an atmosphere exists ... . where drinking and sexual involvements among staff are not unusual and where most of it is engaged in by members of upper management."

Under regulations governing federal employes, Broderick could not file a civil suit during the more than two years that her EEO complaint was pending.

Broderick's case, on which Pratt may not rule until fall, comes at a time when federal EEO procedures have been under attack. A recent study of federal agencies' handling of employe discrimination complaints concluded that the process is seriously flawed, with complaints taking years to process and agencies suffering from an "intractable conflict of interest" in assessing misconduct of officials.

Attorneys for Broderick have asked Pratt to take note of the study. In addition to back pay and other damages, Broderick's suit asks for a permanent injunction against the SEC ordering the agency to stop discriminatory practices.

Among the incidents that former employes in the Washington regional office testified about in court are: a going-away party that took place for more than two hours on government time at which one secretary became so drunk she could not return to work, a sexual affair between a manager and his secretary, a comment from a manager to a secretary that she had "sexy, wide hips," and a trip to Ocean City by a manager that included his secretary, although she had no official business there.

Martin H. Stein, a psychiatrist testifying as an expert witness for the SEC, said this week that, after interviewing Broderick, he believed she suffered from a paranoid personality disorder in which she selects certain aspects of experience to focus on while ignoring others.

When asked whether he considered a manager getting drunk at a party and crawling over to Broderick, untying a sweater she had tied around her neck and kissing her on the cheek a sexual advance, Stein said: "These are common, everyday experiences in the workplace ... . People shouldn't make fools of themselves at parties ... . but this is a part of everyday experience."

Broderick had "an inability to look inside herself and find any responsibility for not being able to fit in," Stein said.

"What you're saying is that Catherine Broderick had a persecution complex," Pratt said.

"Yes," Stein said.

Asked whether some paranoid people function well at work, Stein replied: "They learn there are some things they ought to keep their mouths shut about -- particularly with supervisors."

Stein testified that he did not believe Broderick suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, the diagnosis of the psychiatrist who testified for her.

On cross examination, Stein said that if he had known the undisputed facts of the case and the findings of the SEC's EEO office that an atmosphere of drinking and sexual involvements were not unusual at the office, "that could tend to validate {Broderick's} perception" that harassment occurred.

Stein said that in preparing for his testimony, he had read some of the depositions of managers involved in the case and had concluded that one "wasn't worth the paper it was written on" because of obfuscation, that one former manager should be in a treatment program for alcoholics and that one manager was compassionate toward Broderick.

Of the members of management whom Broderick has alleged were involved in sexual affairs with others in the office, one has admitted an affair. John L. Hunter, who was a branch chief of the regional office, has said that he had an affair with Mary Bour, a former secretary in the office.Hunter is currently assistant chief trial attorney in the enforcement division of the commission.

However, Hunter said in testimony that he never made a sexual pass at Broderick, as she alleged in her complaint.

Herbert F. Brooks Jr., WRO's former assistant regional administrator for regulation, testified this week that he did not have an affair with his former secretary. He also testified that he did not tell another secretary that if she worked for him, socializing would be part of the job.

Karen Nelson, a former WRO secretary, testified for the plaintiff that Brooks told her that he liked to socialize with his secretaries, having drinks, lunches and dinners with them. She did not become his secretary and testified that he never made sexual advances toward her.

Brooks, who now holds the same job in the Philadelphia regional office that he had at the WRO, testified that while he did not have an affair with his secretary, he lied in a deposition he gave before the sexual harassment trial began. In that deposition, he said he could not remember why his secretary accompanied him to Ocean City for a conference he was attending at government expense, although she was not there on business.

In testimony at the trial, Brooks said he realized after consulting with counsel that he had not been candid and forthright in his deposition. He testified that Alice Anne McDonald had accompanied him to Ocean City and had stayed in the same hotel suite with him because she said she "wanted to discuss her relationship to God and the Catholic Church."

He also amended another part of his deposition, in which he had testified that although they stayed had in the same suite in Ocean City, they had slept in separate beds. He testified this week that the two did not sleep at all, but stayed up all night talking.

At that point, U.S. District Judge John H. Pratt leaned forward, asking Brooks: "She went to Ocean City with you and spent the night in the same room and you had nothing to do with each other?"

"That's right, your honor," Brooks replied.

"To discuss theology?" the judge continued.

"Yes," Brooks replied.

Brooks also testified that he saw McDonald frequently -- for lunches, dinners, drinks and jogging -- outside the office, but that it had no effect on the outstanding performance evaluation he gave her.

Asked by Broderick's attorneys whether he was aware that giving benefits or awards to employes who were having an affair, or who appeared to be having an affair, was considered sexual harassment, Brooks replied that he did. He also said that he had met with other WRO managers in the fall of 1984 to talk about how the appearance of affairs was not good for the office.