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Ex-Deutsche Bank Head’s Retaliation Loss Affirmed on Appeal

Sept. 22, 2022, 4:05 PM

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.‘s win in a retaliation suit brought by a former director has been upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Fired managing director Neil Abromavage failed to demonstrate the investment firm’s reasoning for his zero bonus and termination was pretextual for his cooperation in an investigation concerning a coworker’s racially-charged comments, the New York-based appellate court said on Wednesday, affirming a district court decision granting Deutsche Bank summary judgment on his federal and state retaliation claims.

Abromavage headed Deutsche Bank’s Financial Institutions Group within Equity Capital Markets from 2006 to 2016, according to the panel’s unsigned summary order. In 2015, he participated in the bank’s investigation of an employee who reportedly made offensive comments towards Indian employees, among other allegations.

Abromavage reported that he’d personally witnessed the employee use slurs, and the employee was terminated. After the investigation, Abromavage said he suffered numerous adverse employment actions, including the reallocation of revenue previously attributed to him, reassignment of his clients, a zero bonus, and his eventual termination in 2016.

He sued the bank for retaliation under federal and New York law.

Deutsche Bank argued that it took the actions against Abromavage because his revenue declined, and its head of investment banking had issued directives to reduce headcount and bonuses. The court affirmed the lower court’s decision, holding Abromavage failed to demonstrate retaliation was a but-for cause of the actions.

The court cited Deutsche Bank’s evidence of Abromavage’s negative performance reviews and the directives in its decision.

Judges Rosemary S. Pooler, Robert D. Sack, and Michael H. Park comprised the three-judge panel.

Goodstadt Law Group, PLLC represents Abromavage. Seyfarth Shaw LLP represents Deutsche Bank.

The case is Abromavage v. Deutsche Bank Sec. Inc., 2d Cir., No. 21-00668, Summary Order 9/21/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: Annelise Gilbert at agilbert1@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com