Liddle & Robinson Attorneys at Law New York City

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» Wrongful Termination/Discrimination/Whistleblower

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On June 25, 2014, L&R won a FINRA arbitration award of $700,000 against UBS on behalf of a foreign currency trader. UBS terminated the trader’s employment allegedly for cause, forfeiting his deferred compensation and refusing to pay him any bonus for performance year 2012, despite the fact that the trader worked a full year and generated substantial trading profits. (Zanini v. UBS Securities LLC; FINRA DR # 13-01652)

Web Info (URL): 6-25-14.pdf

Our client was the former Chief Executive Officer of Company, a leading service supplier to the largest telecommunications companies in the United States. The client was terminated, allegedly for cause. On December 21, 2012, the arbitrator concluded that the client was wrongfully terminated for cause and awarded him $600,000 for breach of contract damages.

Award Amount – all claims against L&R’s client Thomas Kim were denied

On August 28, 2012, L&R won a FINRA arbitration award, which denied all claims against L&R’s client, Thomas Kim. Deborah Schwartz brought claims against her former employer, UNX, for wrongful termination of her employment in violation of public policy and fraudulent inducement of employment. She named Thomas Kim, the former CEO of UNX, as an individual Respondent as well. After arbitration hearings in Los Angeles, the arbitration panel denied all of Ms. Schwartz’s claims for damages against all of the Respondents, including Mr. Kim.

(Schwartz v. UNX et al.; FINRA DR # 11-00621)

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Ms. Papalia was employed by Milrose as its Executive Director of Operations. Without warning, she was demoted to Director of Administration, losing all but one of her more than 60 reports and suffering a reduction in her compensation. Rather than accept the demotion, which she believed was motivated by her age and gender, Ms. Papalia left Milrose, asserting that she had been constructively discharged. Milrose then hired a younger male to run Operations. Ms. Papalia filed claims of age and gender discrimination, as well as a claim for violation of the Jury Systems Improvement Act. At the conclusion of discovery, Milrose moved for summary judgment, but the court ruled on December 29, 2011 that Ms. Papalia’s age and gender discrimination claims could proceed to trial.
In Thys v. Fortis, the Appellate Division, First Department reinstated a claim of conversion of money for L&R's client against Fortis Bank.

On June 15, 2010, the New York Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the trial court's order and reinstated the claim for conversion asserted by L&R's client Jacques Thys against his former employer, Fortis Bank NV. From September 2000 until April 2006, Thys served as Fortis' US Country Manager for Banking Operations. For 2005, Fortis announced that Thys would be paid bonus totaling €375,000. As an expatriate, Thys had the right under his arrangements with the firm to take his bonus in either dollars or euros. Thys had chosen to be paid in euros. Nonetheless, on or around April 14, 2006, Fortis paid Thys $198,230.73, net of taxes. At that time (i.e., April 14, 2006), under the prevailing exchange rate, €375,000 was the equivalent of $454,105.11. The net payment in $US dollars of $198,230.73 was less than what Thys would have received in euros had the bonus been paid in euros (even taking into account tax withholdings).

After discussing the issue with Fortis, Thys agreed to return the money he had been paid, on the express understanding that Fortis would replace that amount, plus provide him with additional amounts (all in euros), to bring his payment up to the full €375,000 that had been awarded to him. In spite of this understanding, after Thys returned $192,000 to Fortis (taking into account reimbursement for expenses totaling $6,230.73 that the parties at that time thought, incorrectly as it turns out, Fortis owed to Thys), Fortis kept, without having secured Thys' permission, all the money that Thys had returned and never paid him back anything. The First Department held, in reversing the lower court, that Thys had properly pleaded a claim for conversion of money under New York common law.

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On August 19, 2009, the United States District Court in Los Angeles confirmed this arbitration award and rejected Countrywide's appeal to vacate the award as being contrary to the law. Countrywide did not appeal the breach of contract portion of the award ($2,149,750). In upholding the $2,430,600 portion of the award for wrongful termination, the federal court explicitly rejected Countrywide's position that an at-will employee cannot state a claim for wrongful termination on the ground that, where there is an arbitration agreement governing employment disputes, the employee may only be terminated for just cause. Instead, the district court found that the arbitrator (a former United States Magistrate Judge) was well within his authority to rule that the client had been wrongfully terminated because the termination of his employment was without just cause.

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Ms. Borrero was a foreign exchange salesperson at American Express Bank. After she complained that her manager was treating her differently because of her gender, she received a negative performance review and was placed on a performance improvement plan. When it became clear that the Bank intended to terminate her employment upon the conclusion of the plan, she involuntarily resigned and filed claims of discrimination, retaliation, violation of the Equal Pay Act and constructive discharge. At the conclusion of discovery, American Express Bank filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking to dismiss all of Ms. Borrero’s claims. We successfully defeated that motion, and the court ruled on February 5, 2008 that all of Ms. Borrero’s claims could proceed to trial.

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On February 28, 2007, an arbitration panel awarded our client, Nancy Thomas, $420,000 against Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. for gender discrimination in compensation and retaliation. Ms. Thomas was a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch for almost 18 years. After 36 days of hearings and testimony from 22 witnesses, the arbitrators awarded Ms. Thomas $320,000 in lost compensation damages and interest for Merrill Lynch’s gender discrimination in the distribution of client accounts in violation of Title VII, the Equal Pay Act, and the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws, based in part on statistical evidence. The arbitrators also awarded Ms. Thomas $100,000 in emotional distress damages for Merrill Lynch’s retaliation against her for her complaints about gender discrimination, including her being one of the named class plaintiffs in the Cremin v. Merrill Lynch class action. The arbitrators also awarded attorneys’ fees and costs, which the parties then agreed were $1,000,000.

Click here to read the arbitrators’ Decision And Award.

Lawyer(s): Jeffrey L. Liddle

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In 2004, Leigh Short, a former sales person on Deutsche Bank's Asian and Australian Equities Sales desks, filed a Charge of Discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging gender discrimination. On August 23, 2006, the EEOC issued a Letter of Determination finding that "there is reasonable cause to believe that Respondent discriminated against Charging Party and a class of similarly situated females on its Asian and Australian Sales desks, in violation of Title VII. This determination is final."
Ms. Leibowitz was a professor at Cornell's School of Industrial & Labor Relations. In 2002, Cornell terminated her employment. Ms. Leibowitz commenced an action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging gender and age discrimination, violation of the Equal Pay Act, and breach of her tenure contract. The District Court dismissed all of Ms. Leibowitz's claims. We appealed the District Court's decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Liddle & Robinson successfully argued the appeal, and on April 21, 2006, the Second Circuit reversed the Southern District's decision, reinstating all of Ms. Leibowitz's employment-related claims.

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