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Wells Fargo Advisors Faces Sex and Age Discrimination Lawsuit

By Miriam Rozen March 4, 2019

A 69-year-old Wells Fargo Advisors FA with $100 million under management filed a sex- and age-discrimination lawsuit against her employer on Feb. 27.

Judith Bovitz, the FA who filed the lawsuit, alleges that after she complained about the disparate treatment in March 2018, WFA relocated her from an office in Albany, N.Y., to another, smaller office in Saratoga Springs — a 40-minute drive away. WFA required her to transfer in retaliation for her complaining about biases, Bovitz alleges.

Bovitz, a 34-year veteran of the financial services industry who has worked for WFA for the past 15 years, claims she “has maintained an outstanding performance track record” with her employer. But WFA has persistently “subjected” her to “a discriminatory work environment based upon her age and sex,” she alleges.

Specifically, WFA has provided “an inequitable distribution of accounts,” she alleges. “Wells Fargo provided lucrative accounts to younger male employees. This practice has cost Plaintiff additional opportunities and compensation to which she is entitled,” her lawsuit, which was filed by her lawyers, Robert Valli and Robert Barravecchio of Garden City, N.Y.’s Valli Kane & Vagnini.

“She’s still there. She’s still working,” Barravecchio says about his client. WFA is investigating her claims, he says. “It’s taking a lot of time,” he says.

The claims stem from “deep-rooted discrimination against women in the financial services industry,” he says.

As to her losses over time because of the alleged discrimination, Barravecchio says, “You are talking about a lot of money.”

In her lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, Bovitz alleges her former manager “plainly stated to her on at least one occasion that he preferred younger employees.” He told her, according to the lawsuit: “They have what others in the office don’t have – youth.”

Bovitz alleges she told WFA’s human resources department about inequitable distribution of accounts five years ago, but the same practices continue today.

As recently as February 2018, when two male employees left, their accounts were distributed inequitably to younger, male employees, she alleges.

Her transfer to the Saratoga Springs office has meant she has only “old, scratched furniture, which is an embarrassment when meeting with clients,” she alleges. She also lacks a television to monitor financial markets, she alleges.

With her lawsuit, Bovitz seeks back pay, front pay, compensation for emotional damages, and punitive damages.

A Wells Fargo spokesperson sent a statement in response to questions for this story: “Wells Fargo Advisors takes these allegations seriously and the company is reviewing. We have a process for redistribution of client accounts following a financial advisor’s departure known as FABR (Financial Advisor Book Reassignment) and Ms. Bovitz participated in that process,” the spokesperson writes.