Robert Girard, principal and founder of Girard Bengali, recently arbitrated a FINRA matter on behalf of client, Michael Phillip.  On behalf of Mr. Phillip, Mr. Girard asserted the following causes of action: wrongful termination, violations of the California Labor Code, breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, interference with prospective business advantage, violations of California Business and Professions Code, quantum meruit/unjust enrichment, the retention bonus was a contract of adhesion and therefore void and unenforceable as a matter of law and equity, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The causes of action relate to Mr. Phillip’s former employment with Merrill Lynch.

Mr. Girard was able to favorably settle most claims against Merrill Lynch on behalf of Mr. Phillip.  The one issue left for the FINRA Office of Dispute Resolution to decide in arbitration was Mr. Phillip’s request to expunge his Form U5.

After conducing an in-person hearing on November 15, 2016, the FINRA panel issued the following decision and award:

“The Panel recommends expungement of the “Yes” answer to Section 7F(1) Termination Disclosure and its change to “No” and that the Termination Disclosure Reporting page be deleted in its entirety in Michael A. Phillip’s (CRD # 2095551) Form U5 dated October 28, 2014, filed by Merrill Lynch and maintained by CRD. The Reason for Termination shall remain the same. The Panel recommends this expungement because the Panel has concluded that Merrill Lynch’s answer was incorrect. This recommendation applies to any subsequent disclosures concerning this event including, but not limited to, Section 14J(1) of the Form U4 filed on November 25, 2014 and the Amended Form U4 filed on January 6, 2015, by Raymond James & Associates, Inc. and Claimant’s BrokerCheck Report.

The Panel makes these recommendations based on the defamatory nature of the information. Pursuant to Notice to Members 99-54, this is not a finding that Claimant has established a claim for defamation under existing law. The Forms U5 and U4 are not automatically amended to include the changes indicated above. Claimant Michael A. Phillip must forward a copy of this Award to FINRA’s Registration and Disclosure Department for the amendments to be incorporated into the registration records.”