Szendrey-Ramos v. First Bancorp.

512 F.Supp.2d 81 (D.P.R. 2007)


P worked at D until her dismissal in October 2005. P was a Senior Vice President and General Counsel for D, as well as Secretary of the Board of Directors of FirstBank Puerto Rico and D. In March 2005, P received a report from an external law firm that included information about possible ethical and/or legal violations committed by bank officials in relation to the accounting for the bulk purchase of mortgage loans from other financial institutions. After investigation P concluded that there had been irregularities and violations of the Code of Ethics and reported such findings to outside counsel for the bank as well as bank officials. Some months later, the bank's outside accounting firm again raised an issue regarding the bulk purchase of mortgage loans. A review was done, and the Board was informed that P had incurred in misconduct. P was informed she would be placed on administrative leave. P was terminated from her employment. P was offered no severance package. Several bank officials who had been involved in the irregularities identified by P in their investigation, and who were separated from the bank in 2005 and 2006, were provided with severance packages or the opportunity to exercise outstanding stock options. The SEC announced that it was conducting an investigation into certain accounting matters at the bank. Bank officials placed unwarranted blame on P. P was prevented from defending herself from the charges of misconduct by the bank's assertion of the attorney/client privilege. Because of the assertion of such privilege, P was unable to provide information that would have proved her complete absence of blame. Bank officials deliberately misrepresented P's participation and actions with respects to facts contained in the Restatement of earnings. P alleges that Ds' actions were taken in retaliation for having pointed out unethical and/or illegal actions by the bank, as she had the ethical obligation to do. P's complaint includes four causes of action. Those which concern us are for gender discrimination and retaliation, in violation of Title VII and P.R. law; for wrongful discharge under Puerto Rico's Act 80 of May 30, 1976, 29 P.R. Laws Ann. §185a and violations of the P.R. Constitution, Art. II §§ 1, 8, 16; claims for defamation and tortious interference with contracts under Puerto Rico's Art. 1802 of the Civil Code.