A British Columbia court has rejected a former rep’s claim that he was wrongfully dismissed by his firm after forging a client’s signature.
The Supreme Court of B.C. dismissed the claim brought by Mo Movassaghi against his former firm, Harbourfront Wealth Management Inc., which sought damages for wrongful dismissal.
According to the decision, Movassaghi was terminated by the firm in 2016 after it came to light that he forged a client’s signature on documents required to transfer her accounts from Movassaghi’s previous firm to Harbourfront.
“[The client] had indicated to Mr. Movassaghi that she intended to follow him to Harbourfront and transfer her accounts there. However, she had not yet signed the documents to effect the transfer. For reasons that Mr. Movassaghi thought justified him doing so, he forged [her] signature to liquidate and transfer her accounts at a time when he could not reach her,” the court noted.
After the client complained to the firm and Movassaghi admitted to the forgery, he was terminated.
The court found that Harbourfront was justified in terminating Movassaghi’s employment.
“Harbourfront operates in the financial services industry. Cornerstones of that industry are trust and acting with a client’s consent. Forging a client’s signature is fundamentally inconsistent with both of those,” the court said.
“In an industry where clients put their trust in financial services firms, Harbourfront must be able to put trust in its employees,” the court added, noting that the firm’s employment agreement, conduct manual and self-regulatory rules all demonstrate “the importance of obtaining consent of a client and the seriousness with which forgery is viewed.”
Ultimately, the court found that in this case, the “employment relationship was irreparably fractured,”and it rejected Movassaghi’s claim for wrongful dismissal.
But the court did find in favour of Harbourfront on a counterclaim seeking repayment of $5,000 in transition support, $8,587.54 in expenses and $1,163.20 in CPP contributions.
The court ordered that Movassaghi owed Harbourfront $14,750.74 — although the amount may be offset by $6,696.79 of insurance commissions that Movassaghi earned before being terminated.