Friday, May 13, 2011

LDS Man Brent Arave Suing Former Employer Merrill Lynch For Religious Discrimination After Being Pressured To Resign

A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who contends he was pressured into resigning from his position at Merrill Lynch in March 2011 has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, claiming he was discriminated against because he is a Mormon. Specifically named in the suit are Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc., its parent Bank of America Corp., his former boss, Joseph Holsinger, and Bank of America human resources manager Kathy Anderson, plus a slate of unnamed defendants. Media sources for this post include Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Investment News.

The Plaintiff: Brent Arave worked for Merrill for more than 25 years, most recently managing more than 100 financial advisers and 60 additional staff located across five offices in San Bernardino and Riverside counties in California. The offices generated up to $70 million of revenue annually. Arave states that he was specifically tasked by a company vice-president to recruit new hires from his alma mater, Brigham Young University.

Summary: The problems began in August 2010. In a Merrill Lynch employee survey, in which workers were not required to use their names, some employees made discriminatory comments that claimed the firm was hiring too many Mormon recruits and accused Arave of religious proselytization at work. But instead of conducting a fair and impartial investigation, Arave's direct supervisor, Joseph Holsinger, used the complaints as a reason to deny Arave a requested transfer to another office. Further, Holsinger also told Arave to "change his LDS-like behavioral traits" if he wanted to keep working at the firm, and demanded that Arave hold a meeting with the entire office in Indian Wells to apologize for creating an environment of favoritism to his personal religious beliefs.

Arave was then asked to meet with Katherine Anderson, a member of the company's human resources department, to discuss the content of the Indian Wells office meeting. Anderson presented a slide show to Arave addressing the cultural integration of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, and completely ignored his legitimate complaint. In addition, Arave claims he was also harassed after he refused to participate in a cover up of a certain trade that violated significant rules.

When Arave filed a complaint further up the chain of command in Merrill Lynch im March 2011, the company informed Holsinger and Anderson about this, which is considered to be a violation of company policy. Finally, Arave resigned from the company on March 29th; the company refers to it as a "constructive termination". He immediately filed a discrimination charge with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and then followed up by filing the current suit with the Superior Court of the State of California in Riverside County on May 11th. In his suit, he accuses Merrill of religious discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination. He's also demanding unpaid wages and payment for unused vacation time, for undisclosed punitive damages, damages for pain and suffering and the costs of bringing the suit, as well as attorney's fees.

On Friday May 13th, Merrill Lynch spokesman Bill Halldin said that the company denies Arave's claims. Merrill doesn't tolerate discrimination of any kind and the company was surprised and disappointed by Mr. Arave's claims and his decision to voluntarily leave the company.

Analysis: It appears that only one Merrill-Lynch employee was guilty of any anti-Mormon bias. Unfortunately, it was Arave's supervisor, Joseph Holsinger, and so the company is going to end up paying for Holsinger's bias one way or another. I predict a settlement out of court.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

trumpBrent Arave is a LIAR> He is a racist and he discriminated against everyone who is not Mormon. he denied individuals growth promtions due to religion. he denied and even took away opportunities which were earned by non-Mormons and then given to mormons. He broke 3 specific incentive contracts with non-mormons and offered every opportunity to his people as he called them. This lawsuite is as honest as he is.

Regular Guy said...

I worked for Brent Arave for 9 years (until he left the firm) and never saw any of what Anonymous said. The allegation that he was a racist and discriminated against anybody that was not mormon can be proven false by a simple look at his management team. These are the people with whom he worked side by side on a daily basis. His team consisted of hispanics, african americans, lesbians, and gays. He did not have a single mormon in his management team. To my knowledge he never had a mormon in any management position. When he left the firm it was a sad day for everybody. Since he left, the offices he managed have lost 2 resident directors and many of the top producers. Most of those that left have sited the fact that Brent is no longer there as the deciding factor in their departure. I am sure that there are some that did not like him, but if you take a random poll of those that worked for and with Brent Arave, 9 out of 10 will tell you that he was a great man. He was a fair, hard-working, great example for all of us and he is sorely missed.

Anonymous said...

Oh Please! This guy was a liar. I saw him repeadly reset the bar for members of his Mormen mafia. I also saw him single out mid level producers and run them out of the business so that they would leave.
He then would redistribute any assets to the Morman base teams.

Anonymous said...

As an employee under Brent for 7 years, I can say firsthand, he used his religion as the determining factor as to what brokers would make it in the business and what brokers would be pushed out. I personally was told that IF I had been Mormon, or possibly made an effort to CONVERT, by one of his chosen BYU grads, I would be looked on more favorably by Brent. I was personally given a copy of the Book of Mormom in the office. I was told that I would not be allowed to take over any accounts from brokers leaving the business because these assets would go to the new Mormom trainees, overruling the account distribution policy. If Merrill Lynch truly wanted to stop this lawsuit, and had a competent attorney, they would have taken the time to interview the 80-100 brokers under Brent from 2007-2010, and find the many stories. There are MANY examples of Brent using his religion while at work to influence who got paid, and how much. Merrill's attorneys are gifting Brent with money instead of fighting this lawsuit and counter-suing Brent for his management practices. It WAS about Mormonism-- but it was about Brent Arave using the yardstick of fanatical Mormonism to determine the winners and losers in the office. Merrill's management was warned about this via letter in the mid-2000's. They knew. They know now. BUT, they will pay just to make him go away. Sad, because they don't have to lose even a dollar, if they had a decent law firm.

Anonymous said...

I was a female single mom that was a broker for Arave. At first it seemed like he was giving me a shot but, then it became apparent I was being held back, not given opportunities, and not recognized as an equal amongst my peers. Clearly BYU grads were his preference and he was devastated when one team of BYU guys left and went to Morgan Stanley. He took it personally because they all went to church together. There was complete discrimination in that office and clearly non-Mormons weren't given opportunities but, now add on being a woman and you definitely didn't get Arave's favor. What goes around, comes around Brent...and it was your turn. All the times you stuck it to others-now you got stuck by BofA. I hate BofA too but, they recognized the problem where as Merrill Lynch just overlooked it.

Anonymous said...

Brent Arave LOST his case against Joseph Holsinger and Bank of America / Merrill Lynch

Anonymous said...

Brent lost his case. After 21 days of trial, the verdict came back in BOFA's favor by unanimous vote after only 2.5 hours of deliberations. The jury didn't even wait for the exhibits to come back. He clearly had no case. He got nothing.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Brent in the early 2000s. I left Merrill because I knew that not being Morman I was at a severe disadvantage to his chosen people. I will never ever forget the day he sat in my office and demanded I give up 1/3 of my assets to him and his religious crew. I was ecstatic when I learned years later someone at BofA Merrill stood up to him and demanded he aplopogize. I do mot wish ill for Brent, however his outrageous abuse of power had to be puniahed. Just sad it took so long.....

Anonymous said...

This is the biggest joke I've ever heard. This guy not only supported, encouraged and gave his best effort everyday, he gave up time with family, friends all to help these people become successful. The guy doesn't have an ounce of dishonesty or racism in his body.
The people making these comments in here are nothing more than jealous vindictive people that karma will come back to haunt them.
Your sad people! Get a life and find something better to do with your time.

Anonymous said...

Hello March 2, 2014 at 1:52 p.m.-- You're either a total idiot, or you personally benefitted from Brent's favoritism and bigotry. There are no two ways about it. Do you not remember the letter that went to the CEO of Merrill about Brent's favoritism? Did you not have clients taken from your book and given to the "trainees" that were brought in from BYU? There were two groups at Merrill under Brent-- those that were benefitted and gave to the Ward weekly, and those that lost and were taken from by Brent. I know because I benefitted and I made my tithe, as required. Brent finally got what he deserved.

RD said...

The only idiot is the one who can talk behind someone's back and use the name anonymous as a way to hide because your obviously an idiot! All I know is Brent Arave not only cared for you "Anonymous person" but he would have fought for you if you weren't so dishonest and a crook! Just wait it ain't over until the fat lady sings.. Obviously your fat lady sang her song a bit to early... The truth will come out sooner than later and you will have nothing to say except hide behind your anonymous face. Get a life LOSER!

RD said...

The only idiot is the one who can talk behind someone's back and use the name anonymous as a way to hide because your obviously an idiot! All I know is Brent Arave not only cared for you "Anonymous person" but he would have fought for you if you weren't so dishonest and a crook! Just wait it ain't over until the fat lady sings.. Obviously your fat lady sang her song a bit to early... The truth will come out sooner than later and you will have nothing to say except hide behind your anonymous face. Get a life LOSER!