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.
- Employment Termination - Form U5 Defamation: When an advisor is terminated, the broker-dealer files a Form U5 with Finra (the Uniform Termination Notice). In some cases, such as where the advisor was discharged or permitted to resign, the broker-dealer must give Finra a reason for the termination. Sometimes the broker-dealer provides a reason for termination that is false, misleading or otherwise incomplete or inaccurate - and this is sometimes done intentionally to harm the advisor and prevent the advisor from obtaining a new position with a competitor. The false reason for termination is often viewed by other broker-dealers when making hiring decisions, and it usually also appears on the advisor's public Brokercheck report. A false reason for termination can severely limit or even prevent future employment in the industry. In such a situation, the advisor may have a claim for defamation against their former broker-dealer. Typically in such a case, the advisor sues for money damages and seeks an order expunging, or modifying, the termination reason from their CRD records. In a number of cases, FINRA arbitration panels have awarded substantial damages for this form of defamation.
- 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 promissory notes (often called employee forgivable loans or cash advances) 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 and the broker-dealer demands full repayment of the loan. In many cases, the advisor's departure was driven by concerns that the broker-dealer was not meeting its own obligations to the advisor, or had misrepresented the nature of the position during the recruitment process.
- 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.