“Ott v. Fred Alger Management Inc., et al, is an interesting case for a variety of reasons,” says Cleveland whistleblower attorney Tom Robenalt.
The former portfolio manager filed a claim stating she was fired in retaliation for protesting the money manager’s trading policies, which benefited co-workers at her expense, or acted to sabotage her earnings. This lawsuit was one of the first to be filed after financial reforms came into effect in 2010 to prevent companies from getting even with whistleblowers.
The plaintiff, a former U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter pilot, stated that the company’s chief executive officer enacted a policy that allowed some fund managers to place trades for their funds before she was allowed to place hers. In fact, she was forced to ask permission to make trades. Frustrated, she filed a formal complaint with the SEC in 2010.
Shortly thereafter, she began to be harassed, her bonus was drastically cut, and she was moved out of her position. She filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit in 2011.
“Somewhat typically, the company responded that the woman had created the situation herself and her performance was deteriorating,” says Robenalt. “This is more or less the expected response of a company with something to lose: Point the finger at the whistleblower.”
A judge found there was more than enough evidence to prove the company’s new trading policy was illegal and that complaining about it caused her dismissal.