Dissident Claims Bank Sacked Him for China
MANHATTAN (CN) - One of the leaders of the Tiananmen Square protests claims in Federal Court that Morgan Stanley fired him to placate China Investment Corp., which is owned by the Chinese government and "has a substantial interest in Morgan Stanley".
Jailed for 6 years in China, Gang Liu secured political asylum and a green card from the Clinton administration in 1996. He continued criticizing his native land from the United States though organized protests, published articles and speeches.
Since 2010, Liu has filed two long, pro se complaints in Manhattan Federal Court, accusing his estranged wife of being secret Chinese military operative, whom he claims led a far-flung conspiracy involving Pfizer, Google and others, to persecute him.
One of those cases has been dismissed, and a federal judge is considering dismissal motions on the other.
Liu hired counsel to help him with his latest case, which alleges a more straightforward conspiracy involving his former employer, Morgan Stanley.
Liu says that his friend, Yi Tang, recruited him in 2009 to work as a trader for the bank.
Tang, meanwhile, started a volunteer program where Chinese and Chinese-American alumni of Peking University who work for Morgan Stanley could share stories about financial careers in videoconferences, according to the complaint.
Liu, who earned an M.S. from Peking in 1987, says his participation in this conference caused a stir in China.
"As soon as plaintiff introduced himself, there was a loud uproar from the Peking University students, many of whom recognized him as a well-known dissident from the Tiananmen Square protests," the complaint states. "Yi Tang quickly came into the room, told plaintiff to stop speaking, and took plaintiff out of the room."
Liu says his career took a nosedive after that.
"On information and belief, Yi Tang told plaintiff that the Chinese government would not allow him to speak, and that he could not let him be involved in the volunteer program any longer.
"On or about June 29, 2010, Yi Tang told plaintiff that he needed to tell human resources about his background as a dissident and his current political activities," the complaint states.
Liu says he did as he was told, and told Morgan Stanley's human resource officials Katherine Bosch and Stacy Alphonso "about his background as a dissident and his continuing political activism against the Chinese government and in support of the cause of democracy in China."
He claims that on June 28, 2010, the Chinese government became aware that he was working for Morgan Stanley, and had China Investment Corp. pressure the bank to fire him.
Liu says that Tang suggested to him that he email his co-workers about his history as a dissident and an activist. He claims that many employees replied favorably to the email, until Kimberly Selquist, Morgan Stanley's vice president of human resources, told them to stay away from him.
"Morgan Stanley would frequently require plaintiff to meet with human resources, compliance, anti-money laundering and IT security groups for no good reason, including weekly meetings with Selquist, Bosch and/or Alphonso," the complaint states. "The constant meetings were disruptive of plaintiff's ability to perform his regular work duties, and he felt that he was facing antipathy and suspicion from the bank due to his outside political activities and affiliation as an opponent of the Chinese government."
Liu claims: "(R)esponsible personnel of defendants Morgan Stanley and China Investment Corporation set upon a course to result in plaintiff's termination by (1) intimidating plaintiff's co-workers so that they would shun him and refused to cooperate with him on work matters, (2) intimidating plaintiff's supervisors so that they would shun him, refuse to cooperate with him on work matters, and refuse to provide him with assignments as his usual level of authority and responsibility, and (3) intimidating plaintiff with constant and unnecessary meetings with human resources and various Morgan Stanley personnel, all in an effort to get plaintiff to resign."
He claims he resisted that pressure to resign, until he was fired on July 8, 2011.
He seeks $5 million in punitive damages for conspiracy to violate his civil rights and New York State labor law.
He is represented by James LeBow, with Lebow & Associates.
Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to telephone and email requests for comment.