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Ex-UBS broker called a 'bitch' wins $1.5M gender discrimination award

Christine Carona, a former star broker at UBS, won a more than $1.5 million arbitration award after she alleged gender discrimination against her former employer and its Boston-based branch manager.

The ruling found that UBS and her former boss, James Ducey, hurt Carona’s career by treating her differently from male peers and then retaliating after she complained multiple times to the human resources department. Carona will receive more than $600,000, while the rest of the money will cover attorneys’ fees and other costs.

“Christine Carona is an inspiration to all those who have been victims of gender discrimination,” said Dan Rabinovitz, her attorney at Murphy & King in Boston. “She showed great courage by standing up against the full force of the UBS Human Resources Department and James Ducey’s management team.”

Ducey and his attorney couldn’t be reached for comment.

“UBS is committed to providing a diverse and inclusive workplace for all our employees,” the Switzerland-based company said in a statement Monday. “We disagree with the arbitrator’s decision.”

At UBS, Carona was a member of the President’s Council, an elite club for top producers at the company, where she had managed more than $300 million. She had worked in finance for more than two decades and developed an expertise for providing financial advice to customers who find themselves with what she calls “sudden wealth” from the sale of a business, divorce or a death.

Carona also focused on assisting families financially for expenses of children with special needs. She now works as a senior vice president for Morgan Stanley.

In 2018, Bloomberg first reported on Carona’s complaint, which she filed against UBS and Ducey with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. She alleged, among other things, that valuable accounts were mostly distributed to male financial advisers when brokers retired or left the firm. She also claimed that Ducey often stereotyped women and belittled the contributions of female brokers.

Ducey called Carona a “bitch” on six to twelve occasions and made derogatory comments about her personal life in front of UBS employees, according to the September 30 ruling.

The UBS Group AG logo sits on the bank's skyscraper offices in Frankfurt, Germany, on Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Frankfurt's efforts to attract bankers escaping Brexit are in danger of losing momentum. Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

Ducey also sought to block Carona and another woman who were named among the Forbes Top 200 Female Financial Advisors from displaying that honor on their email signatures, while UBS let males do so, the ruling said. Ducey said the company didn’t have a licensing agreement with Forbes Top Women.

The arbitrator found that UBS failed to provide Carona with adequate support, including staff, for her growing business. After Carona complained, UBS introduced two policies that were detrimental only to Carona’s business.

The new rules made it difficult for families of children with special needs to withdraw money for medical expenses, according to the ruling. She testified that this “blew up” her business to the point that she was forced to leave the company.

--Bloomberg News