Two men have been awarded $7.6 million to settle their claims of wrongful discharge and violations of USERRA.
Goldman Sachs in Violation of Wrongful Discharge and USERRA
On December 5, a panel of securities industry arbitrators from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority unanimously ruled investment giant Goldman Sachs will pay more than $7.6 million for wrongful discharge and violating USERRA (federal law that protects military personnel from workplace harassment and retaliation). The award is the largest wrongful discharge award that has ever been awarded against Goldman Sachs in favor of a financial advisor/broker.
Chris Barra and Luis Sampedro
L.A. residents Chris Barra and Luis Sampedro had worked for Goldman Sachs for nine years when the company fired them in 2007. Luckily, the two were able to find employment quickly at UBS. But when they did, Goldman forfeited all of their deferred compensation because they had not given 60 days’ notice prior to working elsewhere. The two filed claims that Goldman Sachs had retaliated against them, created a hostile work environment, and also unlawfully forfeited earned commissions.
Amongst allegations that Barra was chastised for going on reserve duty (he’s a 47-year-old West Point graduate and Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves), the two men also alleged that they had been victim to a restructured compensation plan that converted their commissions to restricted stocks that would pay out over time, thus ensuring financial advisors would be stuck from taking their business to other firms.
“This ruling establishes that my clients earned these commissions and their pay cannot be forfeited under California law,” said their employment lawyer and FINRA attorney Rogge Dunn. “It should also serve as a warning to companies that you cannot treat members of the military differently than other employees or discourage them from taking military leave.”
The two have been awarded more than $5.2 million in compensatory damages, $2 million in punitive damages and $100,000 in damages for violations of USERRA, the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.