Jill Wile, a former deputy regional director in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.’s (“FINRA”) Boca Raton, Florida office, filed a discrimination lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleging that senior officials at FINRA fired her for reporting her boss’s discriminatory conduct. According to the Complaint, Ms. Wile, age 52, who suffers from a diagnosed anxiety disorder, reported to her superiors that Manley Ray, FINRA’s regional director, discriminated against her because of her age, gender, and mental condition. Ms. Wile alleges in her Complaint that she was terminated in March 2013 after reporting the purported discriminatory conduct, and claims that her termination was unwarranted and retaliatory in nature, as she had received only “exceptional and high-contributor performance ratings.” Also, according to the lawsuit, Ms. Wile alleged that Mr. Ray treated her differently than her younger, male counterparts and would frequently make jokes about the advanced age of certain arbitrators and even about FINRA’s President, Linda Feinberg. FINRA’s response to the Complaint is due on May 2, 2014.
As a general matter, the first step to filing a discrimination lawsuit against your employer is to file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), provided that the employer is covered by the laws the EEOC enforces. Generally, a claimant has 180 days from the day the discrimination took place to file a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC. If a claimant does not complete this first step, they may be precluded from bringing a lawsuit against his/her employer. Once the EEOC receives the Charge of Discrimination, it will conduct an investigation on the facts of the case to determine if a violation of the law has occurred by gathering information, reviewing documents and interviewing witnesses. Once the investigation is complete, and no violation is found, the EEOC issues a Notice of Right to Sue Letter. Upon receipt of the Notice of Right to Sue Letter, the claimant can commence litigation against his/her former employer.
Unfortunately, discrimination is a prevalent problem in the workplace. Individuals who are victims of discriminatory conduct should not be afraid to come forward and report the wrongful acts out of fear of possible retaliation from an employer, including possible termination. If an employer wrongfully terminates an employee for reporting discriminatory conduct, the employee has recourse to file an EEOC Charge of Discrimination, and if that is unsuccessful in concluding the claims, the employee can commence litigation against his/her employer.
Lax & Neville has extensive experience in successfully prosecuting claims in court and in arbitration on behalf of employees who are victims of discriminatory conduct and a hostile work environment. Additionally, Lax & Neville LLP has nationally represented small broker-dealers, financial services professionals and securities industry companies in regulatory matters and securities-related and commercial litigation. Please contact our team of attorneys for a consultation at (212) 696-1999.