Morgan Stanley Bias Award Fight Belongs in NC, Judge Says

Law360 (February 21, 2024, 9:29 PM EST)– A Georgia federal judge has ruled that a Morgan Stanley unit must contest an arbitrator’s determination of discrimination against a white male former banker in North Carolina. Charles Randall, the former employee, secured a significant victory as U.S. District Judge Michael Brown granted his request to transfer Morgan Stanley’s suit from the Northern District of Georgia to the Western District of North Carolina.

Randall, represented by Josh Van Kampen and Brian J. Cordova of Van Kampen Law PC, filed an arbitration demand following an arbitration agreement covering employment-related disputes. The arbitrator, Terrence Lee Croft, concluded in April 2023 that Randall presented credible evidence of Morgan Stanley maintaining a corporate culture favoring women over men.

That included what Croft found to be “facially discriminatory” diversity-based bonus structures that incentivized mid-level managers to favor women and minority employees, according to the arbitrator’s award. The arbitrator also said that institutional discrimination was evidenced by Morgan Stanley having maintained a prestigious award that excluded men up until a discrimination charge was filed in 2018 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The arbitration award included over $600,000 in damages and nearly $1 million in fees for Randall. However, Morgan Stanley is challenging the arbitrator’s findings, arguing that Randall would still have been employed if he were younger or female.

In response, Judge Brown emphasized that the arbitration, conducted virtually over Zoom, took place in North Carolina, where Randall last worked, dismissing Morgan Stanley’s attempt to challenge the award in Georgia.

Josh Van Kampen of Van Kampen Law PC, Randall’s counsel, told Law360 that Croft’s arbitration award was “thorough,” and Morgan Stanley’s decision to challenge it in a jurisdiction with a tangential connection to the dispute was “regrettable.” Van Kampen expressed confidence in the award’s substance, suggesting that Morgan Stanley’s focus on attacking the arbitrator himself was misguided.

Van Kampen further noted that briefing on whether to vacate the arbitration award had already been completed. Despite Law360’s attempts to seek comment from Morgan Stanley representatives, there was no immediate response.

The case underscores the legal battle between Randall and Morgan Stanley, revealing the intricate details of alleged discrimination and the subsequent arbitration process.

For a more in-depth understanding, you can read the full article on Law360 here.