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NRA arbitrators order NY firm to pay $1.5 million to former advisor over commission dispute

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2022 | Firm Transition

A New York broker-dealer has been ordered to pay over $1.5 million to one of its former financial advisors who said the firm did not pay him the commissions and other money he was owed, according to Financial Advisor.

A Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration panel sided with William Lawrence Barkow in his employment dispute with Joseph Gunnar & Co.

Barkow filed his claim against the company in January 2020, citing violations that included breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and fraud.

The filing said Barkow earned tens of millions of dollars in commissions and fees for the company during a tenure that began in 2011. In 2017 he and three others were found liable on a guarantee of promissory note for over $6 million.

Barkow claimed company executives gave him an ultimatum to resign or be fired, and though it was explicitly stated in his employment agreement that he was an employee, company CEO Joseph Anthony Alagna Jr. allegedly claimed Bartow that was an independent contractor. This would subject 100% of his earnings to garnishment instead of 10% above minimum wage for an employee.

The filing said Barkow was terminated in 2018 following attempts to resolve the matter. The company said on his Form U-5 that his employment ended due to voluntary resignation but Barkow asserted that the separation was not voluntary and said the language on the form was an effort by the firm to retain all the money he was owed.

While Barkow had been seeking over $7.5 million in damages, the FINRA arbitrators awarded him $1,554,242.50 plus interest for money owed during various periods of his employment. But the panel denied individual claims against Alagna and company president Stephan A. Stein.

Joseph Gunnar & Co. asked for dismissal of Barkow’s claims, and did not respond to a request for comment by Financial Advisor.

Lewitas Hyman routinely represents financial advisors and other registered representatives who were wrongfully terminated by their firm. Our attorneys take a thoughtful approach to clients’ cases by first trying to work with the terminating firm concerning the Form U5 disclosure. When necessary, our attorneys are prepared to file wrongful termination and defamation claims. We are prepared to assist when the circumstances surrounding your termination are wrongful. Contact Lewitas Hyman at (888) 655-6002 or through our online contact form for a free consultation.