Although many financial planning companies rely on the relationship between the financial planner and the customer, E-Trade’s customers primarily conduct business online – usually without communicating directly with any of the company’s financial planners.
Even so, the company includes a non-solicitation agreement as part of their employment contract with their financial consultants and brokers. According to a recent employment lawsuit, Heather Pospisil, a former financial consultant for E-Trade, allegedly violated that agreement by taking E-Trade clients with her when she moved to Morgan Stanley.
According to the lawsuit, Pospisil allegedly accessed a considerable amount of client information late one night, just a few days before she left to join Morgan Stanley, another financial planning company that competes directly with E-Trade.
Pospisil alleges she was merely accessing the information so she could let clients know she was leaving the company. Not only would those clients be unlikely to care, given the online nature of E-Trade’s business, but U.S. Judge Ronald A. Guzman pointed out that it would have been much faster to send a mass email to all her clients. In addition to being more efficient, it also would have provided evidence to support her claim that all she did was provide notice of her departure.
Judge Guzman also noticed that the number of files she accessed on that night accounted for 75% of all the files she had ever accessed in the more than four-and-a-half years she had been working for E-Trade. Continue reading ›