A group of former Robertson Stephens brokers have filed suit in San Francisco against FleetBoston Financial, the parent company of Quick & Reilly. The brokers charge that the firm violated their employment rights when it shut down Robertson Stephens in July of last year. The laid off brokers are claiming Fleet withheld severance pay until they turned over client accounts to Quick & Reilly. The suit cites a meeting between several brokers and Quick & Reilly chief Donald Froude regarding severance pay, in which Froude allegedly says that he wasn’t going to just let the brokers leave with severance. "Why would I want to incur the expense of getting all my people out here when we have you, who know the clients?" the brokers’ complaint alleges Froude said. The complaint says the firm shut down the brokers’ voicemail accounts, in an effort to impede their ability to contact clients. It also charges that Fleet, after announcing it was going to close Robertson Stephens, required all account transfers to be approved by FleetBoston—and then told the operations division not to process them. Further, it says obstacles were placed between the brokers in their ability to get other jobs. Kevin McGee of Hollister & Brace in Santa Barbara is representing the brokers, Damon Allen, Zak Ammirato, James Greenfield, Mark Madden and Michael McGee.
Collectively, the brokers are seeking millions in unpaid severance.
A FleetBoston spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.