Boywitt v. Brunswick Bancorp: Fired for Doing His Job?

Here’s an interesting JD Supra Hot Doc from The Law Office of Steven Siegler, one of our newest contributors, located in New Jersey and practicing in all areas of employment law.

Boywitt v. Brunswick Bancorp
is a case of unlawful termination involving a potential money laundering scheme and the alleged firing of the bank officer/whistleblower who first discovered and reported the scheme. 

According to Mr. Seigler’s document summary:

In late March or early April 2007, Mr. Boywitt learned that a bank customer had repeatedly exchanged thousands of dollars in old $5 bills for new cash. When Mr. Boywitt questioned the Bank’s two head tellers about the transactions, they stonewalled him, refused to follow his instruction to monitor the customer further, and allegedly lied to him regarding a transaction where $8,000 of the old cash was exchanged for new.

The Complaint further alleges that Mr. Boywitt, who was obligated by law to report this suspicious activity, notified his boss … of his intent to file a report with FinCen. Two days later, [his boss] allegedly cursed out Mr. Boywitt and abruptly fired him, saying "you would file [a suspicious activity report] against [Bank] employees? Are you f—–g out of your mind? You’re fired!"

In our collection of tips on how to write compelling document summaries ("Pitching Your Hot Documents") we recommend finding the story and wasting no time to tell in clear terms. Mr. Siegler’s summary lives up to the job, as does the complaint.

From the complaint here’s a detail that reads as though lifted from a dime store detective novel. When the customer in question came to the bank to "exchange several thousand dollars in cash" the teller remarked that the bills smelled old.

The customer’s explanation was that his mother died and that he is "finding money" throughout her house.

The teller said that she would’ve reported the transaction sooner but was told not to by another bank employee.

We checked in by telephone with Mr. Siegler, who has been practicing employment law for ten years in New Jersey ("an employee-friendly state") and in that time has "never seen such a blatant retaliation against someone just doing his job."

"Whether or not there was money laundering, here’s the case of a bank’s Secrecy Act Compliance Officer simply doing what’s required by the law and being fired for it. If every bank in the country was allowed to continue this type of thing it would be open season on these officers – that would be a problem for everyone."

Undoubtedly the bank’s version of events will be made available during the case. We look forward to reporting them here as the story unfolds.