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Chicago Banker Claims Age and Race Discrimination Behind Blaylock Firing

CHICAGO — Fired last summer by Blaylock Robert Van LLC, Chicago-based public finance banker Frank Paul has filed a charge of race and age employment discrimination against his former employer with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Oakland, Calif.-based firm strongly denied the charge. The EEOC said it cannot comment, confirm, or deny the filing of a charge.  A copy of the form filed with the agency was provided by Paul’s attorney, Mark Schwartz.

Paul, who is white and 59, is now working in the Chicago office of the growing disabled veteran-owned San Diego-based firm Academy Securities. Paul joined the minority-owned Blaylock Robert Van in April 2011 as a senior vice president in municipal banking reporting to public finance head Aquacena Lopez. He was fired in August, 2012.

Under the section in the questionnaire asking for the basis of the claim, Paul checked both race and age, according to a copy of the document signed by Paul on Nov. 11. The charge is also jointly filed with the Illinois Human Rights Commission.

“I was discriminated against with respect to pay and benefits and ultimately was fired as a result of discrimination against me at my employer which is commonly referred to as a minority investment banking firm as a result of my being a white older male who complained about my situation,” Paul writes on the form.

Paul alleges that he was not provided with promised health and other benefits that others received and was paid less than minority bankers with lesser experience and easier working conditions.  “Ultimately, I was fired with the CEO telling others that I was not a ‘team player,’” Paul wrote. The form lists several minority bankers Paul contends were treated better than him and several potential witnesses. Eric V. Standifer is the CEO Paul refers to on the form.

The firm said in a statement of the allegations: “Frank Paul’s claims have no merit and his allegation that he was a victim of race and age discrimination is reprehensible. We are surprised that The Bond Buyer would contemplate publication of a story that dignifies a baseless and reckless claim solely intended to garner media attention and pressure Blaylock Robert Van to settle.”

“If Mr. Paul and his attorney Mark Schwartz want to argue their case in the media, they should release Blaylock Robert Van’s response to their allegations, which makes abundantly clear there is no truth to the allegations and no basis for the claims.  Mr. Paul was an at-will employee and was terminated because he failed to perform as expected. When all the facts are presented in the proper forum, the claims will be dismissed.”

Blaylock has not filed a formal response with the EEOC. The Bond Buyer did not obtain a copy of the firm’s response sent to Paul’s attorney, and is not reporting here on communications between the firm and Paul’s attorney, only on information included in the charge Schwartz said was filed with the EEOC.

The EEOC has a period of time during which to review the discrimination charge and decide whether a violation occurred. It can seek mediation or pursue litigation. If no violation is found by the EEOC, the claimant can pursue litigation in federal court.

Paul has worked for a long list of firms during his tenure in the business including the former Prudential Securities, the former First Albany, the former Rodman and Renshaw and the former First Chicago Capital Markets. He has also worked for Loop Capital Markets LLC and Oppenheimer & Co.

Blaylock Robert Van recently hired veteran public finance banker Adrienne Archia as a senior vice president to cover the firm’s clients throughout the Midwest including Illinois, Chicago, and other large Chicago-area issuers.

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Eric being Eric
Posted by Charles D | Friday, January 11 2013 at 8:08PM ET
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