New York's top court has upheld the firing of a hedge fund compliance officer who says he confronted its chief executive about improperly selling personal stock before doing the same for clients.
The Court of Appeals ruled 5-2 in rejecting Joseph Sullivan's damages claim against Peconic Partners, Peconic Asset Management and fund President William Harnisch.
The majority says New York common law generally gives an employer the "unimpaired" right to fire an at-will employee, with a few exceptions. It says there is no exception for wrongful discharge of a hedge fund's compliance officer.
Dissenters say the court should expand an exception it has carved out for lawyers who get fired for insisting on professional ethics. They say the majority ruling "facilitates the perpetuation of frauds."