Ex-Schwab Worker Collects $15k for Emotional Distress

March 28, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - If the term computer "help desk" seems like an oxymoron, take heart.

Charles Schwab Corp. was ordered by a three-member New York Stock Exchange arbitration panel to pay $15,000 to a former employee for “emotional distress caused by Schwab’s careless behavior in handling claimant’s inquiries about on-the-job computer problems, appeal of management decisions, and post-employment forms,” The Wall Street Journal Online reported on Friday.

In addition to the damages for emotional distress, the panel awarded Finocchi $106,500 in lost wages for an almost five-year period, $20,000 to cover the costs of the arbitration hearing, and another $150,000 to pay for her legal fees, though her request for punitive damages was denied.


In August 1999, Schwab hired Finocchi as a financial advisor in training at the firm’s Phoenix office, where she was placed in a department that handles customer e-mail inquiries. Employees are rated on a range of factors, including how many customer e-mails they respond to, according to the report, citing Finocchi’s lawyer, Marc Susswein of New York law firm Liddle & Robinson.

In April 2000, Ms. Finocchi got a new boss, and they apparently didn’t get along, according to Susswein. Two months later, her computer went on the fritz. She immediately notified her boss of the problem, but soon after received a warning for “statistical manipulation,” according to her lawyer. In July 2000 she was fired, according to the report.

For its part, in a document filed with regulators, Schwab said Finocchi violated “company policies and procedures” in connection with her handling of e-mail. That blemish on her record made it difficult for her to find employment, and she eventually had to leave the financial industry, according to the report.

In addition to the monetary award, Finocchi’s record on file with securities regulators will be changed to reflect simply that she was let go for “noncompliance-related” reasons.