8/31/2012 3:00:00 PM,
Jeff D. Gorman
(CN) - An investment banker forfeited his $2 million corporate partnership when he mooned the boss and was fired, an Illinois appeals court ruled.
Jason Selch joined Wanger Asset Management as an investment analyst in 1994, staying with the company for over 10 years as it eventually merged with Columbia Management, a subsidiary of Bank of America.
A few weeks after that last merger in April 2005, Selch learned that his friend, Chris O'Dea, had been fired for refusing to accept a lower salary in his new position with Columbia.
He went to a conference room where a meeting was going on between Columbia's New York-based COO Roger Sayler and Chicago chief investment officer Charles McQuaid.
Selch asked the men if he had a non-compete agreement with the company. Learning that he did not, Selch dropped his pants and mooned Sayler and McQuaid. After picking up his pants, Selch said he hoped Sayler would never return to the Chicago office, then he walked out of the conference room.
The men testified that Selch probably would have been fired on the spot if Bank of America CEO Keith Banks had been present at the meeting.
As it was, Sayler's reaction was simply: "Wow, I don't believe that just happened. We'll have to figure our how to deal with that, we've got to, we've got more things to talk about."
Though Sayler later instructed the human-resource team to give Selch a written warning, Banks insisted later that they fire Selch for his "egregious" behavior. McQuaid tried to save Selch's job, but Banks ultimately fired Selch.
This caused Selch to forfeit contingency payments worth almost $2 million, which would have vested in a few months.
Selch subsequently sued Columbia Management, Columbia Wanger Asset Management, Bank of America and WAM Rights Partnership for breach of contract and tortious interference.
He claimed that his firing violated the formal warning letter he received and also that his actions were not just cause for termination.
After the Cook County Circuit Court granted summary judgment for the defendants, the Illinois Appellate Court's Third Division in Chicago affirmed Wednesday.
"Plaintiff violated the rules and regulations in the (employee) handbook by behaving in a disruptive, unruly and abusive manner - 'mooning' Sayler and McQuaid and informing Sayler that he was not welcome in that office and that plaintiff hoped he would never return to the Chicago office - that also may be considered obscene behavior," Judge Michael Murphy wrote for a three-judge panel.
"Plaintiff fails to acknowledge the important fact that there was no use of the word 'promise' in the formal warning, nor was there any oral contract for continued employment between McQuaid and plaintiff," he added. "Furthermore, at no point did the letter state that it was a contract; to the contrary, it was explicitly called a warning and not a contract."