Broker sued by betrayed firm

Broker sued by betrayed firm

A double-crossed firm has dragged a broker to court over a recent legal dispute .

A firm has dragged a broker to court over a recent legal dispute.

The broker, Michael William Rodgers, has appealed in court against his previous employer commercial finance brokerage, Sunrise Brokers LLP, following a recent decision that upheld claims by the brokerage for relief regarding a contract of employment.

Sunrise is an inter-dealer brokerage with knowledge in the real estate market, which appointed Mr Rodgers as a derivatives broker in May 2009. His new contract in 2011 outlined for him to work there for three years, where he can terminate the contract after 12 months with written notice. The contract also included a garden leave provision.

However, on the 5th March this year, Mr Rodgers signed an employment agreement with a competitor,which also deals with real estate affairs, whilst still employed with Sunrise. Later that month he told Mr Finegold, a Director of his then current brokerage, that he “was leaving Sunrise and wanted to leave now”. He was told to carry on working until another Director, Mr Gibbs, was available – however he left and has not worked there since.

Despite discussions with the firm’s general counsel, Mr Rodgers stated that he was permanently relocating to New York to work, and therefore will no longer be working for them.

Due to this, Sunrise decided not to pay his May’s salary and bonus payments.

In the previous case, Mr Rodgers argued in court that the brokerage “did not really want him to return to work and that their insistence that he do so was entirely tactical.” The judge found that the firm initially did want to retain him as he was a valuable employee however after finding out about the competitor, the firm then “wished to keep him as far away as possible from their clients and their information”, due to him working for a competitor.

The judge concluded that Mr Rodgers’ contract had not been terminated and he was therefore not allowed to accept a job with EOX until 16th October 2014. He also awarded Sunrise injunctive relief to enforce “post-termination covenants”.

The most recent appeal involved Mr Rodgers claiming that the previous judge had erred in law, as his salary and bonus payments were not paid, and that there were errors regarding the restraining. He also disputed the costs.

The court found that Mr Rodgers had given “almost no evidence” that being prevented to work for the new firm and not receiving his notice period pay, he was in “serious financial hardship”.

The judge stated that the brokerage’s motive for not paying Mr Rodgers “is not what matters”, adding “they were entitled not to pay the Appellant because he was not prepared to work.”

The judge questioned how the non-payment combined with him being restrained from working for a competitor made an effect.

The judge added that “the distinctions between pre- and post-termination restraint are nevertheless real, and it is liable to lead to confusion and loss of principle if the two streams are mingled.”

The judge rejected that ground of appeal.

After considering other points, the judge stated: “I would dismiss the appeal”, where the ground referring to whether the Learned Judge erred in any event in ordering Mr Rodgers to pay all of the claimant’s costs was still to be decided.

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