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In Landmark Ruling, Judge Says Mortgage Bankers Have Right To Engage In "Profanity-Laced" Rants About Clients In The Bathroom

Remember where you were when this verdict came down.
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A safe space.

Having a rough day at the office and need to blow off a little steam vis-à-vis all the clients you wish would use their brains before calling you to talk about problems that, frankly, you don't give a damn about? Ask a colleague to meet you in the nearest restroom for a little sounding off and it's all good.

Quicken Loans violated federal labor law when it fired a banker accused of griping about the job in the restroom, a National Labor Relations Board judge has ruled, saying the profanity-laced conversation was protected activity and that the man who overheard the exchange from a restroom stall accused the wrong employee. Administrative Law Judge Dickie Montemayor said Quicken Loans Inc. must rehire mortgage banker Austin Laff and pay him for lost earnings, as well as remove workplace rules he found to be unlawful restraints on employees’ rights to discuss working conditions. In February 2015, Laff said he had asked a co-worker, Michael Woods, how his day was going when they crossed paths in the restroom, and Woods said, “It’s been kind of crazy.” Woods then complained about a client he’d been assigned to help, but who had already received refinancing services four years ago. According to Laff, Woods then said, “Why doesn’t he call a client care specialist and stop wasting my fucking time?” Jorge Mendez, another employee, was in a restroom stall and overheard the conversation.

After he left the bathroom, he sent out an email to every employee in the office blasting the conversation. “Never, EVER should we be swearing in the bathroom especially about clients. Also, please refrain from stating that clients that call in are wasting your (*swear word*) time. This is NOT who we are and NOT what we stand for. Check yourself at the door,” part of his message read. A manager, Site Vice President Matt Stoffer, followed up with his own email. “I want to be very clear ... Things like this WILL NOT be tolerated in this culture and will be dealt with swiftly. ELITE PROFESSIONALS. THAT IS WHO WE ARE AT QUICKEN LOANS AND HERE IN THE ICON NATION. LIVE IT. The I in ICON stands for INTEGRITY. LIVE IT. Every Client, Every Time, No Exceptions, No Excuses. LIVE IT,” Stoffer wrote.

Oh, and snitches who can't tell one colleagues voice from another's get stitches.

When Stoffer asked Mendez who was involved, he identified Laff as the speaker, although Laff maintained that Woods was the one using the profanity. It was Laff’s version of events that Judge Montemayor found most credible. Management at the location then fired Laff over the incident. Although managers didn’t fire Woods, they did issue him a written warning called an “opportunity letter.” Judge Montemayor also ruled that disciplinary action against Woods violated the law. In Thursday’s ruling, Judge Montemayor said the restroom conversation was a concerted activity worthy of protection under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.

Firing Over Foul-Language Griping Illegal, NLRB Says [Law360 via Lauren LaCapra]


RBS Trader Whose Instant Messages Clearly Show Him (Allegedly) Engaging In Libor Manipulation Not Going Down Without A Fight

One thing that most people probably agree on is that having their instant messages, e-mails, and phone calls end up court would be cause for at least a little embarrassment. Everyone's thrown in an emoticon they aren't proud of, some of us have used company time to chat with significant others about undergarments, and the vast majority of workers have spent a not insignificant amount of the workday talking shit about their superiors. Of course, the humiliation gets ratcheted up a notch in the case of people who 'haha' (and in extreme circumstances "hahahah') their own jokes* which, just for example, involve habitual Libor manipulation. Tan Chi Min knows what we're talking about: “Nice Libor,” Tan said in an April 2, 2008, instant message with traders including Neil Danziger, who also was fired by RBS, and David Pieri. “Our six-month fixing moved the entire fixing, hahahah.” And while having such an exchange become public would be tremendously awkward for most, you know what's really 'hahaha' about this whole thing is that 1) Tan was the one who wanted people to read the above, which was submitted as part of a 231-page affidavit earlier this month and 2) He's trying to use it as evidence that he didn't deserve to be fired. The conversations among traders at RBS and firms including Deutsche Bank AG illustrate how the risk of abuse was embedded in the process for setting Libor, the benchmark for more than $300 trillion of securities worldwide......Tan, the bank’s former Singapore-based head of delta trading for Asia, [is] suing Britain’s third-biggest lender by assets for wrongful dismissal after being fired last year for allegedly trying to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, or Libor. Tan, who 'allegedly' tried to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, also included this conversations as part of his defense: “What’s the call on Libor,” Jezri Mohideen, then the bank’s head of yen products in Singapore, asked Danziger in an Aug. 21, 2007, chat. “Where would you like it, Libor that is,” Danziger asked, according to a transcript included in Tan’s filings. “Mixed feelings, but mostly I’d like it all lower so the world starts to make a little sense,” another trader responded. “The whole HF world will be kissing you instead of calling me if Libor move lower,” Tan said, referring to hedge funds. “OK, I will move the curve down 1 basis point, maybe more if I can,” Danziger replied. And this: In another conversation on March 27, 2008, Tan called for RBS to raise its Libor submission, saying an earlier lower figure the bank submitted may have cost his team 200,000 pounds. “We need to bump it way up high, highest among all if possible,” Tan said. Tan also asked for a high submission in an Aug. 20, 2007, instant message to Scott Nygaard, global head of RBS’s treasury markets in London. “We want high fix in 3s,” Tan said in the message. “Neil is the one setting the yen Libor in London now and for this week and next.” Also this: “It’s just amazing how Libor fixing can make you that much money or lose if opposite,” Tan said on an Aug. 19, 2007, conversation with traders at other banks, including Deutsche Bank’s Mark Wong. “It’s a cartel now in London.” And this philosophical one, for good measure: “This whole process would make banks pull out of Libor fixing,” Tan said in a May 16, 2011, chat with money markets trader Andrew Smoler. “Question is what is illegal? If making money if bank fix it to suits its own books are illegal... then no point fixing it right? Cuz there will be days when we will def make money fixing it.” The defense rests. RBS Instant Messages Show Libor Rates Skewed for Traders [Bloomberg] *Although actually people who do this probably don't even have the good sense to be ashamed of themselves.

Macquarie Investment Banker No Fan Of The 'Turn Off All Electronic Devices' Rule

So Alan James didn't and this happened: One of Macquarie Group’s top banking executives in the US was offloaded from a Qantas plane in Los Angeles for alleged disruptive behaviour after refusing to turn off his mobile phone. The incident on board QF108 resulted in Alan James, a New York-based senior managing director for Macquarie, being offloaded from the plane in LA on May 22 and later stopped from taking a connecting flight to Sydney. The first incident occurred when a flight attendant told Mr James, who was seated in business class, to turn off his mobile phone while the Qantas aircraft was taxiing at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport. The second involved a conversation with one of Qantas’s airport staff at LA International Airport, at which point he was refused travel on another Qantas plane to Sydney...was allowed to take another Qantas flight to Sydney the following day. The airline’s policy is to ban disruptive passengers from flying for 24 hours. A spokeswoman for the FBI confirmed that it was notified about an incident on board the flight between New York and LA but no federal charges were filed. Obviously what's unclear at this time is how egregious James' violation of the rule was (e.g. was he shouting into his phone moments before takeoff or simply scrolling through picture of Miranda Kerr, which he knew would be prohibited once he reached HQ? Reaming someone out about "this deal going up in flames" or quietly finishing an email to a reporter about how the NBA lockout was affecting his business?). These are the questions we need answering. Macquarie exec ordered off Qantas plane [Sydney Morning Herald] Investment banker kicked off flight from JFK to LAX after 'refusing to turn off cell phone' [NYP]