Financial advisors increasingly face employment issues as layoffs, restructurings, and transfers of financial professionals between firms continue unabated. Many advisors find themselves in disputes with their former firms that delay or negatively impact a successful transition to their new firm. These disputes can impact professional reputations, compensation, and future opportunities in the financial industry.
Employment Transitions Should be Fast and Smooth
It is important to have an attorney who understands the industry and the stakes involved -- one who works closely with you to develop potential legal strategies tailored to your specific circumstances. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some clients may need, for example, an attorney to play only a background role, such as providing advice on employment contracts and advance compensation arrangements. Other clients may need assistance handling a FINRA inquiry into the circumstances of their departure from their prior firm. Still others may need representation in litigation -- typically a FINRA industry arbitration. Bartell Law helps you identify your goals and then helps you accomplish them quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively so you can get back to business.
Bartell Law handles a variety of different employment matters.
- Unpaid Compensation: These are claims for compensation due to financial professionals, including salary, bonuses, incentive compensation and employer payments on employee loans. Also included are claims for compensation where a termination appears to have been timed to prevent an employee from receiving compensation that would otherwise be due for work previously done or based upon a completed or a nearly completed transaction.
- Promissory Notes (employee forgivable loans): These are disputes over the repayment of advance compensation loans and the like made to financial advisors, often at their recruitment or as a retention incentive. Disputes usually arise when the employee resigns or is terminated from employment. The firm demands full repayment of the loan and the employee refuses claiming the firm failed to meet its own obligations, made misrepresentations or otherwise caused the employee's inability to repay.
- Defamation: Terminated employees can sometimes claim that their prior employers damaged their reputations by making false statements about the circumstances of the termination. The statements can be on FINRA Form U5, which requires broker-dealers to provide a reason for the termination decision, or the false statements can appear elsewhere. Often a former employee claims the employer made false statements to smear the former employee's reputation and make it difficult to secure new employment at a competitor. In a number of cases, FINRA arbitration panels have awarded substantial damages for defamation.
- Raiding, Employee Poaching: These are claims brought by a financial firm against another firm to prevent the poaching of their employees in violation of non-compete covenants and other legal duties. These matters often involve allegations of trade secret theft, misappropriation, and violation of client privacy.
The firm has experience litigating a variety of industry disputes, including for example:
- the successful defense of a terminated research analyst's claims for large sums of unpaid compensation;
- the successful trial of a claim against a registered representative (terminated for outside business activities) for failure to repay an advance bonus recruitment loan, with counterclaims for negligent transfer of the representative's accounts from a prior firm;
- a terminated administrative manager's claims for wrongful termination, defamation and reinstatement;
- participation in an internal investigation resulting in the termination of employees for violation of the firm's policies and procedures;
- defense of a registered representative whose transfer to a new firm was subjected to regulatory scrutiny concerning client data.
The firm appreciates that hard-earned business reputations, careers and compensation are often at risk in industry arbitration. The firm therefore handles these cases with the care and seriousness they deserve. The firm will not only aggressively represent you or your company in arbitration, but where possible, will seek out creative, mutually-beneficial resolutions to end the dispute quickly and inexpensively, so everyone can get back to business. Call for a free consultation.