Ex-Wells Fargo Broker Claims Age Discrimination Led to Her Firing
A 75-year-old broker in Philadelphia has sued Wells Fargo Advisors, claiming she was wrongfully terminated after 24 years at the firm and a predecessor broker-dealer because of her age, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Pennsylvania.
Deane Serfer Rudofker said Wells dismissed her in August 2015 on a trumped-up customer complaint of unauthorized trading, while letting a younger broker similarly accused to remain at the firm, according to the lawsuit filed in Eastern Pennsylvania District Court. She is seeking more than $150,000 in damages and back pay.
Rudofker, who since her dismissal has worked at two other firms and been dismissed by one after less than a year, also accused Wells of liquidating two of her investment accounts at the firm to recoup money she allegedly owed on a promissory note. The lawsuit describes the actions as “post-employment acts of retaliation.”
Age discrimination suits have been less common than claims of gender discrimination in the industry, but could increase. The average age of financial advisors is 51, according to a Cerulli Associates study published in December, and other consultants say the age skews higher at wirehouses.
David Lojpersberger, Rudofker’s former branch manager at Wells, repeatedly asked her since mid-2014 about her plans to retire and remarked that “most people” her age had quit working, the complaint alleged.
Lojpersberger, who the lawsuit says in his 40s, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said it was reviewing the filing and could not immediately provide a statement.
Rudofker was terminated by Wells for inaccurately telling a colleague that she had spoken with a client when such conversations had not taken place, according to her BrokerCheck database history. The colleague entered the attestation into the firm’s database.
She was also discharged by Ameriprise Financial in April 2016 for allegedly mismarking trade tickets as unsuitable and using personal e-mail with a client, according to BrokerCheck.
Rudofker’s lawsuit, which does not dispute Wells’ allegations, asserts that a “significantly younger” colleague who tried to conceal that he sold the stock of a deceased client was allowed to continue working at the branch.
Rudofker joined Ameriprise Financial Services in September, just under two weeks after she was fired by Wells, according to BrokerCheck. However, Ameriprise fired her seven months later in May 2016 for “violations of company policy related to the firm’s solicitation policy, mismarking trade tickets as unsolicited and use of personal email with a client,” according to BrokerCheck.
Rudofker has been employed at Summit Brokerage Services in Haddon, New Jersey, since June 2016, according to BrokerCheck. Neither she nor her lawyer Sidney L. Gold in Philadelphia responded to requests for comment.
In March, Marshall Sale, a septuagenarian who was fired in 2016 after almost 50 years at Merrill Lynch, sued the firm for age discrimination, seeking $5 million in damages. That case is pending in federal court in California.