An appeals court reversed the managing director’s dismissal for gross misconduct
by Gaspard Sebag
A Moody’s Corp. managing director fired for lashing out at a junior co-worker who criticised his team’s work won his Paris job back and a 1.6 million-euro (US$1.8m) payout.
Moody’s French unit fired the managing director in March 2015 after saying an internal investigation found that he retaliated against a female analyst he managed who had questioned the way his team monitored a fund. But last week the Paris Appeals Court reversed his dismissal for gross misconduct after ruling that one of the allegations of retaliation didn’t stand up.
The judges ordered his reinstatement as team managing director within a month on annual pre-tax pay of about 282,000 euros. Moody’s also owes him a provisional amount of 1 million euros in back pay as well as a 2014 bonus and 500,000 euros in damages linked to stock endowments. The man – whose name was blacked out in the ruling – had lost a prior employment-tribunal lawsuit but appealed, leading to last week’s decision.
Representatives for Moody’s declined to comment, as did a lawyer for the man.
Bankers throughout Europe routinely turn to specialist labor courts to recoup lost bonuses and rehabilitate tarnished reputations. While it’s rare, some win re-employment. Last year, a Barclays Plc trader fired at the behest of a New York regulator for misusing an electronic trading program won a new contract for a post that paid 150,000 pounds ($193,000) a year.
In the Paris case, Moody’s fired the managing director for having made an “unfounded” report about the analyst alleging that she had harassed another female colleague. The credit rating agency said the report was an example of retaliation that added to poor ratings he gave the analyst in her annual review.
But the Paris judges said that this was “contradicted” by the direct testimony of the colleague who was allegedly harassed by the analyst. The colleague said she had alerted the managing director four times in less than half a year about the conduct, and that the analyst had an “offensive and nearly abusive attitude” toward her (the colleague).
That alone justifies overturning the dismissal, the court of appeals ruled, underlining that, under French law, employees can’t be fired for having testified about harassment. The case could reach France’s top court – the Cour de Cassation – if Moody’s files an appeal.
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