Two brokers and former employees of Credit Suisse had a big win last week when a three-person panel of FINRA arbitrators awarded them at least $6.7 million for owed deferred wages and liquidated damages. Specifically, the amount ordered to be paid by Credit Suisse represents unvested deferred stock the brokers claimed they lost out on when Credit Suisse closed down its U.S doors in late 2015. The original individual amount of $2.8 million requested by each broker was more than doubled by the arbitrators under a liquidated damages provision of New York State labor law. They also tacked on attorneys’ fees, arbitration forum costs and additional interest that will accrue until the award is paid.
Before they closed down, Credit Suisse had taken their brokers’ deferred wages and promised them that if the firm did in fact close or they were terminated, not for cause, then the employees could keep their past deferred wages. When they did in fact announce the closure of its U.S. private bank operations, Credit Suisse struck a deal with Wells Fargo and promised to send their former brokers over and join Wells Fargo Advisors for a finder’s fee. All of the brokers who went to Wells Fargo received 300% of the revenue they produced in the last year as well as a release over a set amount of years of their unvested deferred wages. Credit Suisse had set aside about $14 million in deferred wages for brokers who joined Wells Fargo but allegedly left all others out in the cold. The company saved more than $200 million by denying these deferred wages to brokers who joined rival banks of Wells Fargo. Lawyers for these brokers argued that because their clients did not resign from Credit Suisse but were rather constructively terminated, they qualified for accelerated vesting as a result of Credit Suisse closing U.S. business.
Although at times lucrative, the financial industry is still riddled with wage issues. If you work in the finance industry and believe you are owed wages or other compensations you may have a claim. Speak to an employment attorney may be beneficial in understanding your rights. Call Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP for a free confidential review of your matter today at (212) 300-0375 or visit our website for more information.