A former UBS Financial Services branch manager is claiming he was terminated by the wirehouse after two female employees allegedly “fabricated” a story about his making advances on one of them.
In a wrongful termination complaint, Curt O. Hall — ex-UBS branch manager in Greenville, S.C. — claims the “fabricated” advances were alleged to have taken place during and after a happy hour gathering the branch manager helped schedule for staff members to attend.
According to his BrokerCheck record, Hall was registered at UBS from September 2002 until November 2017.
Hall — who has been registered at Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network since March 2018 — filed the complaint last month before the State of Carolina, County of Greenville County Court of Common Pleas. UBS and the two female co-workers are named as defendants.
Hall claims UBS breached its fiduciary obligations by failing to fully investigate the two women’s allegations before firing him.
The lawsuit highlights legal risks that loom for employers who have to sort through allegations that arise among employees in the wake of socializing outside the office and in the Me Too era.
"We think these claims are without merit and we will actively pursue their dismissal," a UBS spokesperson told FA-IQ.
The two women’s allegations about Hall centered on events during and after the happy hour drinks in September 2017 at a downtown Greenville bar called Nose Dive, where the crowd of UBS employees included Hall and the two women, according to Hall’s lawsuit.
At the bar, one of the women told Hall that “she believed she and her boyfriend at the time were going to separate and that she was scared to go home,” according to the lawsuit.
In response, Hall showed concern for the woman’s “safety and well-being” and asked “how he [Hall] could help, including offering her a place to stay for the evening,” his lawsuit states.
The two women offered to drive Hall home and one of them — the female Hall had expressed concern about — chose to sit in the car’s back seat with him, despite availability of the front passenger seat, according to Hall’s lawsuit.
Before leaving the car to enter his own home, Hall asked his seatmate if she “was going to be okay” and, after she said yes, he gave her “a European-style consolatory cheek kiss and exited,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit does not describe nor give further details of the European-style kiss.
Since that evening, Hall has “never been one on one” with the woman to whom he gave the European-style kiss, nor has he ever invited her for “anything one on one,” Hall’s lawsuit states.
But a month after the Nose Dive happy hour, a UBS human resources associate called Hall in to question him about the events at the bar and afterwards.
The lawsuit alleges the two women had developed a “scheme” and “fabricated and exaggerated misrepresentations” of events that evening to support “baseless allegations” about Hall and his relationship with other UBS employees in his branch.
The lawsuit also claims the two women “conspired” to “create a plan” wherein one of them would gain job security and the other would gain a promotion “in line with UBS’s goals of advancing females into top positions within the company.”
“UBS took no further efforts to corroborate the truth of the events” of that evening, Hall alleges in his lawsuit. Instead, the wirehouse terminated him on Oct. 17, 2017.
“UBS’s decision to terminate [Hall] was based on its goals of advancing females into top positions within the company and that was why UBS only performed a cursory investigation into the allegations against [Hall],” the lawsuit states.
UBS also reported to Finra that it had discharged Hall for "[v]iolation of HR policies related to professional conduct," his lawsuit alleges, and, as a result, he has lost “lost numerous employment opportunities.” He also lost out on compensation, bonuses, and refunded business expenses, his lawsuit states.