How a Major Brokerage Firm Failed a Vulnerable Employee

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After years of representing clients in workplace discrimination cases in the securities industry, I thought I had seen it all. I realized I was wrong when I heard the shocking treatment my client, “John Doe” (my client’s name is withheld for his privacy), was subjected to at a major Wall Street brokerage firm’s West Los Angeles branch office. Its mistreatment of a vulnerable, disabled employee is why I agreed to represent John and filed a civil complaint on his behalf in the Los Angeles Superior Court (LASC Case No. 20STCV36736). By sharing some of the details of this alleged misconduct, I hope to raise awareness and hasten a wake-up call for workplace disability support, especially in the securities industry.

John Doe had been a successful financial advisor for another larger firm for almost seven years before being recruited by this company. His professional life changed radically when his wife suffered a high-risk pregnancy that threatened their unborn son’s life. With the baby diagnosed in utero as having intrauterine growth restriction, John Doe’s wife could have lost the baby during her pregnancy. The life-threatening conditions for his son were a constant risk.

Shortly after John Doe shared this crisis with his supervisor, his supervisor made a snap judgment that John’s productivity would suffer due to his family crisis and he would be a burden to the brokerage firm. With this perspective in mind, the supervisor and her cohorts embarked on a campaign to push him out of the firm.

The firm began by removing John’s remote access to emails and the firm’s network server, even though the company’s financial advisors are routinely given remote access. The firm then issued a performance warning informing John that he could be terminated if he continued to work from home, forcing him into what were considered work “absences” for caring for his bedridden, pregnant wife.

Singling John out like this was bad, but it quickly got worse.

John’s son was born a month prematurely with severe disabilities, and John was diagnosed with clinical post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the unrelenting pressures surrounding his family’s health and his workplace issues. John suffered profoundly with depression, thoughts of suicide and a host of other symptoms.