A Bluffton, S.C., financial advisor and broker who says she quit Morgan Stanley in part because harassment she received for being gay, has filed a complaint with Finra because of her treatment at the global financial services firm.
Lisbeth L. Cherrington headed the Bluffton team for Morgan Stanley for more than two years during which time she was subjected to professional and personal harassment and rumors that prevented her from doing her job, according to her complaint.
She was recruited from Wells Fargo Advisors to conduct financial planning seminars in the southern region of the United States. However, most of the seminars that were planned were never held and her efforts to connect with other Morgan Stanley advisors in the area were thwarted by superiors, she says.
Cherrington says she and her team are entitled to $10 million in damages because of lost opportunities to conduct business and costs that the team incurred. The Morgan Stanley internal system for dealing with employee discrimination and other complaints, which Cherrington tried to use, is a sham and produced no results, says her lawyer, Thomas M. Campbell of New York City.
Morgan Stanley counters that it is a leader in LGBT equality and rights, and that Cherrington is reviving her claims of discrimination to fight off a demand by Morgan Stanley that she repay $6.7 million the firm loaned her to establish her office in South Carolina.
The company has “been repeatedly named a Best Place to Work for LGBT equality, developed industry leading investment symposiums for our LGBT clients and joined other firms last year in urging the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act],” Morgan Stanley said in an email reply to a request for comment.
“Morgan Stanley maintains a zero tolerance for all discriminatory practices,” the email says. “Morgan Stanley investigated and addressed the concerns raised by Ms. Cherrington and determined that she had not been the subject of any discrimination during her employment. Ms. Cherrington has evidently raised these issues again in an attempt to fend off a demand by Morgan Stanley that she honor the agreement she signed to repay millions the firm loaned to her during her employment.”
The Finra complaint details a series of actions by Morgan Stanley that Cherrington says made it impossible for her to recruit new clients or transition her old clients to her new practice. Telephones were blocked, office leases were not renewed, paperwork was botched and fees she collected were not processed.
In addition, she was accused of poaching clients from other Morgan Stanley advisors. It was also rumored that she hired rookie advisors and took credit for their work, according to the complaint.