Jefferies Analyst Says Bank Cut Bonus After Leukemia Battle

  • Managing Director Milan Radia sues for discrimination in U.K.
  • Bank, which won unrelated claim last year, says suit meritless

A Jefferies Group LLC analyst and managing director said in a disability discrimination lawsuit that his bosses tried to force him to quit by cutting his bonus and fabricating charges of gross misconduct after he was diagnosed with leukemia.

Milan Radia, who still works for the investment bank in London, received a “highly disappointing" bonus of 192,475 pounds ($239,000) in 2010 after he spent seven months of the year away from work recovering from the disease, according to his witness statement at an employment tribunal Monday. He says the bank investigated him for misusing non-public information and front running.

Milan Radia on Nov. 8.

Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

The "unjustified bonus outcome in the face of my extraordinary effort during" 2011 was an attempt “to encourage my departure from the company," Radia said in his statement. "I consider this to be a case of continued discrimination following the previous year’s reduction in bonus due to my absence from the office during treatment for leukemia."

New York-based Jefferies says the suit has no merit, just like another high-profile, yet unrelated, case it prevailed in last year.

‘Meritless Claim’

"As has happened in the past, we are here now because we refused to surrender to a meritless claim," said Jefferies spokesman Richard Khaleel. "As we have before, we expect to prevail on each of Mr. Radia’s claims and, as we have also done before, we plan to seek attorney’s fees for this frivolous action."

Former Jefferies Group saleswoman Dalal Alaoui Belghiti, who sued the bank in 2015, dropped her sexual discrimination suit against the investment bank halfway through a trial that included allegations of a male-dominated work culture that drove her to quit. Richard Handler, chief executive officer of New York-based Jefferies and its parent company Leucadia National Corp., said at the time that the lawsuit was an affront to everyone who works at the investment bank.

Radia was diagnosed in November 2009. A month later he was promoted to managing director, awarded a bonus of 148,935 pounds and saw his salary increase 15,000 pounds to 125,000 pounds from a year earlier.

He was in hospital until April and returned to work at the end of June 2010.

In 2010 his forecast bonus for that year was "reduced to a pro rata rate" and cut by two thirds to 192,475 pounds due to his absence while he received treatment, according to his statement. That gave him total pay for the year of 307,000 pounds, according to evidence produced by Jefferies.

"My promotion to managing director had not been reflected at all in an increased bonus payment on a year-on-year basis and it was clear I had been paid a substantially lower bonus than other managing directors," he said. It "struck me as yet another instance of disability discrimination."

Radia said he didn’t receive a cash bonus in 2011. He said he received a "very poor" discretionary bonus of 50,000 pounds in 2012, 32,000 pounds in 2013 and no cash bonus in 2014. Other managing directors at the bank were paid bonuses of between 152,295 and 319,604 pounds in 2012, he said.

In 2013, Radia was subject to an internal investigation for “being in possession of and misusing non-public information about a quoted company" and "front running a rating change on CapGemini SA," according to Radia’s witness statement. That investigation was another effort to force him out, Radia said.

‘Ulterior Motive’

An examination by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP and the Jefferies compliance team of “the events relating to CapGemini and a review of every e-mail in my inbox led to nothing untoward being discovered," Radia said in his statement. "The accusations were clearly fabricated with an ulterior motive."

Compensation at employment tribunals, which is usually capped at about 80,000 pounds, pales in comparison to salaries and bonuses paid to senior staff at London’s banks. Damages are unlimited if claimants can prove they were victims of discrimination, or were fired for whistle-blowing.

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