Ex-UBS star broker called a 'bitch' by her boss wins $1.6 million discrimination claim

Christine Carona was producing $2.1 million in revenue, but had a difficult working relationship with her branch manager

Oct 28, 2019 @ 4:23 pm

By Bruce Kelly

A former star broker for UBS Financial Services Inc. who was repeatedly called a "bitch" by her boss won a $1.6 million arbitration award last month.

Chrisine Carona worked for UBS in Boston from March 2009 through July 2017 and currently is employed by Morgan Stanley. She was the top performing female adviser for UBS during that time period, ranking among the firm's top 10% worldwide, and by the time she left produced annual revenue of about $2.1 million..

The arbitrator found that UBS and the supervisor, James Ducey, retaliated against Mr. Carona after she had complained to the UBS human resources department that she was being discriminated against based on her gender. She also complained she was not receiving her fair share of client accounts of advisers who had left the firm.

"Ms. Carona had a difficult working relationship with Mr. Ducey," wrote the arbitrator.

"Over time, Mr. Ducey used offensive language with regard to Ms. Carona," according to the arbitration decision. "For example, he referred to her as a 'bitch' on six to 12 occasions. He also made derogatory comments about Ms. Carona's personal life in front of UBS employees."

The arbitration was private and mediated by JAMS arbitration, not the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc.

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During her career as an adviser, Ms. Carona developed a niche practice that focused on special needs trusts, which allows the trust's beneficiary to protect benefits, including Social Security, Medicaid and other types of government benefits that need protection, according to the arbitration award.

In 2016, after complaining about not receiving support staff as quickly or of the same quality as a male counterpart, and also stating that a sales contest Mr. Ducey was planning was not in compliance, Mr. Ducey and another UBS executive complained to human resources that Ms. Carona was "harassing" them, according to the arbitration award.

Ms. Carona left UBS in the summer of 2017 after the firm changed policies that applied to her trust clients, which she believed would have devastated her business, according to the arbitration decision.

Ms. Carona was not available to comment, said her attorney, Daniel M. Rabinovitz, of Murphy & King.

"Christine Carona showed great courage by standing up against the full force the UBS human resources department and James Ducey's management team," Mr. Rabinovitz said. "A key part of the case was a female former assistant of Mr. Ducey's who came forward and testified that on six to 12 occasions she heard Mr. Ducey refer to Ms. Carona as a 'bitch'. And at the hearing, after that testimony, Ducey himself testified that in the 'heat of frustration' he could have called Ms. Carona a bitch.'"

A UBS spokesman, Huw Williams, said that Mr. Ducey declined to comment and added: "UBS is committed to providing a diverse and inclusive workplace for all our employees. We disagree with the arbitrator's decision."

The arbitrator awarded Ms. Carona $616,000, plus interest, for UBS and Mr. Ducey's "discriminatory and retaliatory conduct," and $920,000 for legal fees and costs.

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