On May 7, 2019, two former Credit Suisse investment advisers represented by Lax & Neville LLP won a $6.68 million FINRA arbitration award against Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC for unpaid deferred compensation and violations of the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”). This is the fourth FINRA Award against Credit Suisse for unpaid deferred compensation.
The claimants, Joseph Todd Lerner and Anna Sarai Winderbaum, were advisers in the New York branch of Credit Suisse’s US private banking division (“PBUSA”) and were terminated when Credit Suisse closed PBUSA. Credit Suisse took the position, as it has with hundreds of its former investment advisers, that Ms. Winderbaum and Mr. Lerner voluntarily resigned and forfeited their deferred compensation. A three member FINRA Arbitration Panel determined that Credit Suisse terminated Ms. Winderbaum and Mr. Lerner without cause, breached their employment agreements by cancelling their deferred compensation and violated the NYLL. The FINRA Panel was chaired by a law professor and expert in labor and employment law.
The FINRA Panel awarded Ms. Winderbaum and Mr. Lerner compensatory damages totaling $2,787,344, which included 100% of their deferred compensation awards, 2015 deferred compensation, and severance. Having concluded that the cancellation of deferred compensation violated the NYLL, the FINRA Panel awarded statutorily mandated interest, attorneys’ fees and liquidated damages equal to 100% of the unpaid compensation. See NYLL § 198(1-a). The FINRA Panel ordered Credit Suisse to pay 100% of the FINRA forum fees, totaling $50,250.00, and recommended expungement of Mr. Lerner and Ms. Winderbaum’s Form U-5, the termination notice a broker-dealer is required to file with FINRA. As with hundreds of their colleagues, Credit Suisse falsely reported that Mr. Lerner and Ms. Winderbaum’s “Reason for Termination” was “Voluntary,” i.e. that they voluntarily resigned. The FINRA Panel recommended that the “Reason for Termination” be changed to “terminated without cause.” The FINRA Panel also denied Credit Suisse’s counterclaims. To view this Award, visit 17-00057.