UK Judge Awards Damages in Bad Boss Suit

July 31, 2003 ( - A former senior managing director at UK brokerage house Cantor Fitzgerald, who alleged his foul-mouthed boss drove him from his job, was awarded nearly $1.6 million in damages.

The United Kingdom High Court ruled that Cantor Fitzgerald had breached the contract of Steven Horkulak “by reason of the treatment received by him at the hands of his boss.” Horkulak had charged that the abusive behavior of Lee Amaitis, Cantor Fitzgerald’s international president, had driven him out of the company, according to a Reuters report.

“I hope that now, finally, Cantor Fitzgerald’s US bosses will accept that there are deep-rooted problems within its London office, concerning the treatment and welfare of its staff,” Horkulak said.

Verbal Abuse

Horkulak said Amaitis routinely bullied and shouted abuse at him during a six-month period immediately before he left the firm in June 2000. On one occasion, Amaitis telephoned Horkulak at home and subjected him to a torrent of abuse and threatened to “break him in two,” according to the report.

The judge said Amaitis adopted the “language of criminal intimidators”, which is “wholly incompatible with the continuance of a relationship based on mutual trust and confidence”.

Even though the judge acknowledged the environment at Cantor was stressful and demanding, with staff having to make split-second decisions on telephone deals involving huge sums of money, he said this did not give managers a right to treat staff differently.

“I reject as fallacious the proposition…that where very substantial sums are paid by an employer, he acquires the right to treat employees according to a different standard of conduct from that which might otherwise be required.”