Lawsuit or arbitration ? what to do
I have consuilted several attorneys without any success so far and I'm here to toss it to the wind and see if there's any good advice here. I have sixty days to make a case - here's the details -
I was hired by a fortune 500 financial institution about four years ago and have recently left to become independent. The firm has sent letters asking for a return of a part of the outstanding loan/bonuses. - not a ton of money but enough to be concerned. I believe I have a strong case against them on several fronts.
Initially I took some up front money, a deferred bonus program based on production, assets gathered etc. I was promised a full time assistant, the freedom to sell any products I wanted to, and the ability to price transactions without haircuts - almost immedietly those promised perqs were rescinded when a new manager was hired
in the beginning there was a TRO from the former firm and my new firm modified via email
and discussion the terms and conditions including the amounts due and the dates due from both sides. I have documentation on this. When I ran into problems later, they reneged on the new terms and claimed the updated terms were in error. They say I owe them money, I say they owe me. etc. The director of recruitment sent me the updated terms and at that time I asked via email if they were correct and he stated via email in response that they were.
within a week of my hire, my hiring BOM was terminated and a real tyrant came in and gave us the "you do it my way or the highway speech". Most of the advisors left. He was a ML guy, my least favorite type, and we did not jibe well together for obvious reasons.
he stated that he would not talk to or assist any advisor who did not focus on fee based accounts and insurance products. He was very vocal about the organization being a "sales organization" and that he did not care one bit about performance.
he was also paid more on his hires versus those who were there before he arrived - I have documentation of this.
I also believe that he was taking kickbacks from his hires for several reasons but do not have direct proof. e.g when boy A was talking to him about a large annuity purchase, BOM said to him" So what do I get out of it?" he also made a large number of visits to the bank next door to make deposits. Who does that?
he hired his friends and family, some with regulatory issues and some without advisory experience and when the departing brokers left he gave his friends and family hundreds of millions of dollars in client assets and none to those who he did not hire.
once, a friend asked me for a reference on him and the firm and stated that the ML tyrant guy has bragged about his "creative management" and his desire to fire or alienate those who did not do exactly as he wanted all while recruiting the advisor to have the freedom to run his business as he wished. For obvious reasons he did not join the firm.
One time there was an open shouting match in the office between one FA and the BOM where the BOM reiterated the need to sell proprietary fee based accounts & VA's to have access to him. The FA argued that all clients did not have the need for these products and the BOM isolated him from then on. This happened frequently in the office. I believe he was paid more on those type of sales.
every employee of the firm signed the "code of conduct each year which explicitly discussed doing what was best for the clients interests and the firm requirement that we report unethical behavior.
I reported several things - another FA who bragged about losing credit card roulette for several thousand dollars who then called his card company and reported it stolen - this same FA had been fired for unethical behavior at his previous firm - we were one of those 'last stop' firms where bad guys could go. This same FA had signed for a courier delivered check that disappeared. He had the supervisory licenses as well and knew the procedure.
I reported my manager for painting the office when he didn't want to hire the union out of his budget in a closed shop building - behavior that could have brought a picket line out front. I reported my manager for telling me to cut a check from a custodial account to pay for property taxes. I had asked him for advice because the client was part of a larger relationship. The clients other advisor had insisted this was legal and my boss told me to ignore the law and do as the client instructed. I reported my manager for hiring a temp with felony convictions for identity theft and forgery who opened the mail and processed checks, he had hired her without checking her background. I reported the manager for insisting that I focus my client activites on the aforementioned product lines when my recruitment experience including recruiting literature stated otherwise. We were not allowed to talk to him if we did not have a high concentration of sales in those areas.I reported him for taking a nearly twenty thousand dollar commison from me and handing it to one of his buddies who - again - the BOM got paid more on for which I have detailed documentation.
These complaints were part of a long list of questionable practices reported to the ethics board who in the end did nothing. At that point I had commited political suicide and soon thereafter an investigation began into my practices. Retaliation.
Is there anything I can do and specifically what kind of attorney do I need? The securities lawyers I have spoken to are most interested in an overtime class action. I believe my contract was violated by the firm due to material misrepresentations and ommisions that if known would have kept me from joinging the firm. I also believe they changed my contract in terms of bonuses and did not adhere to those changes. I believe I was fraudulently induced into the contract believing the representations of an ethical firm and the promises made during my recruitment.
Ultimately, you need to contact a lawyer/law firm that does intra-industry arbitrations or has experience with employment law matters resulting in civil trials. If you Google that information, I'm sure that you will find some hits. You could also contact a local bar association (state or city) and ask them for referrals.
I started with the state bar assoc and went through the securities attorneys listed - and most of them were either brand new or like I said before looking to go the class action route only - I will proceed to search for more locally
thanks for the link - it has been bookmarked and if you have a friend or colleague in Illinois feel free to have them ping me
I have not recieved a demand letter yet - the firm was acquired and the acquiree has sent me a letter recently asking that I agree to the number which is way off considering the latest numbers given to me by the previous firm.
thanks for the response, do you think I have any recourse on the amended figures that were later dismissed as erronious by the director of recruiting?
and ps - the firm was an NYSE member if that makes any difference
stanford was fortune 500?
the firm I am talking about is in the top ten in terms of number of full service advisors
and PUBLICLY NOTORIOUS these days
and I have moved on the much greener pastures after having avoided the minefield that is the current environment, I have found a great firm to clear through and it's going quite well thank you - the name brand is intact
any other opinions are wlecomed