PE with 10-15B AUM - Associate Offer Rescinded

Hi WSO Members,

I'm currently a restructuring banker and I received an offer to join a PE w 10-15B in AUM in the US. Our deal experience somewhat overlapped, and after 14 interviews, case study, etc., I got the offer. They even pushed me for references from my current firm. The references were great, as I've always been top bucket and very kind/helpful to everyone. The fund rescinded the offer just 1h after I made what I thought was a miniscule disclosure to an HR rep I never spoke to before (technically a disability, I made it b.c I require a 1h a week accommodation). It was tough to get this offer and now I'm thinking of crawling back to my current firm saying it didn't work out. It's really discouraging because the headhunters said I was the front-runner the entire time, and the other new hires are all from top Rx groups. I'm happy for the kid who's about to get that rare email for another round.

Not sure if anyone here has experienced this before or has advice. Happy to DM you. I have detailed documented evidence of everything, but not sure if it's worth pursuing this in any way. I sacrificed my entire summer (>2mo) in this process, and not only do I have nothing to show, but the situation with my current firm has been damaged as they had high hopes I'd stick around. Thanks everyone.

EDIT: Since people are saying I'm 'not telling the whole story:' the disability (protected status under ADA) is alcoholism and the accommodation is making a meeting at least once per week. Have many years sober (>5yrs) and sometimes need to make a meeting or commitment. My current firm and prior firm have had no problem accommodating. I interviewed many law firms and all of them have followed up (most email every day) to hire them on contingency (some even brought their fee split from 40 to 30). Of course, no amount of money will satisfy the damage, and I have to consider taking this to court.

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Comments (61)

  • Analyst 2 in PE - Growth
Aug 23, 2021 - 1:41am

Not really sure how it could be considered wrongful by the firm or discrimination without knowing what you mean by "disability." Also, since you technically never signed anything they can essentially do whatever they want at the risk of reputational damage, but if the firm is a 10-15B PE Firm, they must do good work so they'll have no problem hiring and likely don't care. Sorry you're in this situation, but I don't really know what documented evidence would do for you unless you wanted to wage some sort of legal battle that you won't win and will cost you. I've never experienced this but have heard of offers getting rescinded from people not being truthful during interviews, etc. I'm curious to hear what you disclosed 

  • Analyst 2 in PE - Growth
Aug 23, 2021 - 12:04pm

Thanks for the update, and was never questioning if what you said was true just couldn't really give help without more detail. It honestly sounds pretty wrong what they did, legal or not, but I'm not qualified to be giving legal advice. Look, at the end of the day, it's sad but I'm sure this has happened before to someone. Your choice to get advice from lawyers and possibly take legal action may be justified but it comes down to if you have the financial resources to pursue it. If you've got a trust fund waiting for you then maybe it makes sense, but what will that accomplish. I have several relatives that suffer from alcoholism so I feel for you, but even if you call them out it's not like its somewhere you'd want to work anyway. Pretty fucked by them though

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  • Associate 1 in HF - Other
Aug 23, 2021 - 2:30am

We're not having the full story mate, but based on what you've provided, I don't think you will benefit from litigious process against that PE firm. Try to reconcile with the current bank that's all I can think of. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Aug 23, 2021 - 12:34pm

You never disclose anything until after your offer bro. come on now. Swallow the loss and move on but now you know.

  • Associate 3 in PE - Other
Aug 23, 2021 - 8:51pm

yeah it was a poor decision to disclose this. that said, it sucks it happened. hopefully you can figure something out

Funniest
  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Aug 23, 2021 - 9:21pm

Honestly, for the sport of it, I want to see blood, please sue them and report back

Controversial
  • VP in IB-M&A
Aug 24, 2021 - 2:31am

you should've never told them anything. i simply cannot fathom a fact pattern where disclosing this made sense. even if they found out after you started, it would be virtually impossible for them to fire or reprimand you on that basis. assuming your performance remained strong. but since you brought it up before, you made it far easier for them.

no use crying over spilled milk, however.

i do not suggest pursuing a lawsuit. the firm definitely won't make it easy for you to prove a discrimination claim. your lawyer would have to do tons of depositions and sopeana/review lots of emails. you'd be in court for years. but even if you could, what are your damages? if you can stay at your current firm, you probably haven't lost much $ as a result. but the downside is that you could become unhireable.

i suggest learning from your grossly excessive candor and moving on. sorry.

  • Associate 2 in IB - Restr
Aug 24, 2021 - 1:06pm

To be fair, they specifically asked for any & all disclosures to be made NOW, ahead of a background check. I do not have a background, but you're right I probably said too much. I was accommodated in the past, and I felt I'd be lying by omission had I kept my trap shut. But sometimes, clearly, you gotta lie by omission to advance your career.

Sep 2, 2021 - 1:09pm

The premise for legal action here is not "damages" suffered in financial terms, which may be small if OP returns to current firm and has no earnings interruption. That is not at all the point! The tort committed by this PE firm is a pretty heinous and brazen one, and done with a seeming sense of impunity. It may be true that in this "at will" employment world firms can without reason dismiss employees or nullify offers. BUT, in this instance this firm has inarguably linked their action to disclosure of a protected disability, and that fact can never be obscured. THAT is the tort. The grounds for legal action then lie in punishing and REFORMING such practices by business entities, i.e., preventing them from violating protected rights of employees. In such cases, the scope of the action may extend far beyond redressing the harm done to just one individual in one particular care, and may be seen by the courts and juries as an opportunity to reaffirm legal standards and uphold societal values with respect to individuals with disabilties, and send a MESSAGE at large to employers all across the land! the fact that the individual here is a high achieving, obviously very disciplined and motivated, as well as an honest person is all to the credit and strength of his position in this matter. This seems to be reinforced by the fact that contingency fees have been lowered by law firms....a prima facie sign of the merit of his case. It is highly likely that he would be a most sympathetic figure for a jury!!! Reminds me of a case in Philadelphia where in the early days of AIDS, an employee  with AIDS was dismissed after a campaign of official devaluation/subtle harassment/unfair treatment. It went to court, and the employer got eviscerated by the Jury. In this case, a credible threat of legal action and accompanying horrible publicity may motivate this firm to pay out a large sum pre trial, in which case the plaintiff may get rewarded while avoiding publicity for his own career, as well as maintain current employment. Worth discussing these scenarios with a strong laew firm.

Most Helpful
Aug 24, 2021 - 3:30am

Not sure why so many people are telling you to stand down. I might understand it from an emotional perspective (it's not worth the time/money, etc.) but I can't believe people are clowning you for disclosing a disability protected by the ADA. That's so beyond messed up and nobody should go though that. In today's age any amount of flak on social media (either publicly or disclosed privately via financial news sites) will get firms to cave in an instant. You sound like a really smart and capable person and I'm sure you'll be fine regardless, but don't take this lying down. This is incredibly awful legally and ethically for the PE firm, and I encourage you to do everything you can in your power to fight back. It takes individual sacrifices (that I myself will likely never have to make), but it's what we need to make sure that companies/recruiters don't think it's ok to discriminate in the future. Think about a future kid in your shoes. I don't think you'd want anyone to lose out on an opportunity just because of a disability. If you have the energy, I strongly support you taking up the cause and showing these firms that someone with a disability is worth hiring. You already proved that even with this disability you're the best person for the job already. You're already plenty qualified enough; anyone can and should see that!

  • Associate 3 in IB-M&A
Aug 24, 2021 - 3:06pm

Second this wholeheartedly. Asking for disclosure isn't an invitation for them to pull the offer for disability. This is complete BS from a firm that thinks they're above this kind of stuff - I would at minimum ask a lawyer to draft a nice little letter for them even if you don't want to go through legal action, if they're cutting their fee split they probably view this as a strong case and you can get them to admit some wrongdoing.

Legal stuff aside, sounds like you dodged a culture bullet. Congrats on 5+ years man

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Sep 1, 2021 - 10:35pm

this is absolutely retarded (pun intended)

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Restr
Aug 24, 2021 - 9:24pm

Hey mate. I'm really sorry this happened to you. I work at a distressed shop where a couple guys, including the founding partner, know Bill. DM me. Although I'm not a lawyer, depending on how well documented your communications were (and how closely you can connect the recension with your disclosure), you should pursue this hardcore and you shouldn't settle for a token amount. I don't know the facts, and assuming everything you're saying is true, this is a fairly big deal / case. The damages are emotional, reputational, etc. Punitive damages for emotional distress carry guidelines depending on the state with some reaching well into the hundreds of thousands or millions. Try to research and ask the lawyers. I would pursue this in the federal system, and maybe even the local or state courts depending on where you are, since it sounds like they violated dozens of local and state laws too... I certainly wouldn't hold it against you if this case appears or is disclosed when you get an offer, and I certainly wouldn't hold your disability against you. That is disgusting. I believe the bigger shops would concur.

  • VP in IB-M&A
Aug 24, 2021 - 10:25pm

I actually am an (ex-)lawyer. Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a virtually impossible claim to win on absent an "outrageous", totally over the top fact pattern. Not hiring someone =/= outrageous. Think crazy stuff like burning a cross on someone's lawn multiple days in a row.

You'd also have to prove that they *intentionally* pulled your offer just to cause you severe emotional anguish (as opposed to, say, protecting their business). Punitive damages lol? A lawyer is more likely to be fined for filing a frivolous lawsuit on these facts.

Maybe there's some other claim but nothing really jumps out at me. People are reacting emotionally to what is clearly a grossly unfair situation. But this is hardly good legal or strategic advice. 

Maybe OP can extract a nice check for signing a release + NDA. But I do not like his odds of taking this to court and getting an outcome that really makes everyone feel better.  

  • Associate 2 in IB - Restr
Aug 25, 2021 - 2:00pm

Not tryna argue with you, and dk what form of law you practiced, but with the evidence, they're all chomping at the bit to take it. On contingency. They're lowering the fee split too. I don't wana reveal too much, but the evidence is damming. They all examined it before sending retainers. These are the top law firms with the highest ratings/biggest settlements in employment discrimination in this jurisdiction. There is no basis for anything frivolous. 

Aug 25, 2021 - 2:12pm

I do not know why one would have that mindset. Purely self defeating and irrational. It's a big PE firm versus a, I presume, "nobody." The "nobody" should strategically push this into a federal court / go public to extract the largest claim possible. Clearly, much of OP's case rests on the evidence OP says he/she has. None of us examined this evidence, or can follow the fact pattern in detail...... which is why I said his/her claim depends on how closely OP's counsel can tie recension to his/her disclosure.

Sep 1, 2021 - 9:15pm

It's a poker game.  Maybe the legal claims aren't that great, as you say.  But the defense lawyer's job here is to not get sued in the first place, because it becomes public.  

So the plaintiff's job becomes not to have a great case, but to convince the defense that he's going to sue regardless of how good his case is.

If this firm is like any other PE shop these days (sudden large inflow of paper wealth + raising a fund that could take AUM to next level) they have every incentive to pay "walk away" money.

Aug 25, 2021 - 12:57am

As someone else who shares in your disease and with a similar amount of sober time, this is heart breaking and super frustrating to see. I don't have much by way of advice to give you but I wanted to acknowledge you for your honesty and transparency. Glad to know we're not alone. 

  • Analyst 1 in S&T - Equities
Aug 25, 2021 - 11:54am

If the lawyers have a solid track record and it is on contingency then sue them. Sorry to hear this happened, really not right on their end.

Aug 25, 2021 - 12:52pm

Please don't ever say/disclose alchoholism... you can say you have treatment once a week and say you'd rather not disclose. They can't force you. But based on the info provided, it's reasonable for them to assume you have a problem that could impact performance on the job.

KC
  • 2
  • 3
Aug 27, 2021 - 2:30pm

Canucklehead

Please don't ever say/disclose alchoholism... you can say you have treatment once a week and say you'd rather not disclose. They can't force you. But based on the info provided, it's reasonable for them to assume you have a problem that could impact performance on the job.

The only difference between this dude and probably half the senior partners is he was able to admit he had a drinking problem and stopped

Aug 25, 2021 - 6:38pm

Biggest risk to the firm is that this gets out and other people who worked or interviewed there have similar claims. From this perspective, the firm has a lot of incentive to avoid a lawsuit or public disagreement here. 
 

For those saying don't do anything, you realize OP likely has a chain of emails that basically go offer letter > disclosure of ADA disability > offer rescinded right?
 

Do you guys know how shitty that looks and how easy it is for people to understand what the firm did? This isn't something that is based on an anonymous  claim or a he said / she said situation. 

Array
  • 4
Aug 26, 2021 - 11:14pm

This is beyond fucked up and you should 100,000% sue the fuck out of these asshats - anyone saying otherwise is likely a spineless cuck. Also, as a fellow AA member myself, you are very stupid for letting them know you are a recovering alcoholic. Nothing ever good will come out of telling people that. Sorry you are dealing with this.

  • Associate 3 in PE - Other
Aug 27, 2021 - 5:50pm

Firm that takes only elite restructuring analysts at 10-15b aum. .  . Not suprised as a ton of people in distressed are assholes and if its fund im thinking of, worst kind.

That being said, sue make sure to get a 2 way NDA, with significant (7 figs if possible) liquidated damages on their side (and yours, around 50% of settlement amount). 

Keep it hush hush hush and you take home an OK check for the time you were likely unemployed / career risk you took / potential career impact you took.  Make it a very expensive decision to spread the word about you. 

I would not disclose the alcoholism and note the hour a week is for an undisclosed medical reason. 

  • Associate 3 in PE - Other
Aug 28, 2021 - 6:01pm

FlybyWilly

Can you DM me real quick? Got a quick Q

Sorry - based on what I just posted, want to be very very careful as I work in distressed and have posted outing stuff on account.  If important can make a throwaway to reach out.  

Sep 1, 2021 - 6:13pm

Associate 3 raises an interesting point above. From a practical POV, you may have leverage because GP's behavior seems problematic as a matter of law (knowing what little you posted). That said, what are your damages? As others have noted , your economic damages are probably nill. This is an employment case though, not a contract case. The key factor, IMO, is that you take reputation/career risk by pursuing legal action. Consider this: I once read a WSJ story about a whistleblower at a BB who may have had a legitimate complaint aagainst his employer. At the end of the article, it says this guy was now bagging groceries. Don't get stuck bagging groceries.

Seems to me like you are bright. I empathise with your situation. But don't let this derail your career. Stay at your firm if possible and recruit efficiently (or don't). This seems obvious but keep in mind that you need a job. If you can't return to IB, your desirability as a candidate will change quickly once off-payroll. Even if you were competitive at BigBadGP, maybe you need to settle for MMPE, opportunistic lending or even L/S at this juncture.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Restr
Sep 12, 2021 - 12:37pm

Huh? "settle" for L/S? L/S is just as difficult (if not more difficult) than distress or PE to break into.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 1, 2021 - 8:49pm

Seriously. You're 5 year sober. Who cares about a 1-hour a week commitment ? This is what some people spend at the gym each day. Or actually drinking. 
 

i think 1) they are absolute assholes whom you don't want to work for 2) you may have made it sound like worse than it is ? 3) you need to sue them and settle in sealed court to avoid being unhireable. 
 

A single WSO post mentioning their names would be taken up by the news and the reputations damage could cost them millions, even potentially prevent some of the ESG focused LPs to invest in the future. They fucked up on that one you need to realise that 

Sep 1, 2021 - 9:06pm

You've already done the right thing by getting lawyers involved.  The fact that many of them want the case says a lot about the strength of the case.  Pick the smartest one and get going.  Good luck, hope you get a nice payday.  You say no amount of money would make up for the damage done; I dunno, you might do pretty well and never have to tell anyone why.

Sep 3, 2021 - 6:27am

Definitely sue them, what they did is beyond messed up. Assuming you're in a good rx group I doubt you'll have trouble getting another offer anyways.

Plus, probably half of the senior folks in this industry have a drinking problem (maybe not full blown alcoholism). It's crazy to think they'll rescind your offer because you actually admitted to the problem (most people won't) and have taken steps to fix it.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 10, 2021 - 1:41am

Fuck them. Go after them. The people saying you made an error disclosing this are wrong. Get with the times.

Sep 12, 2021 - 11:17am

I would seriously learn as much from this as possible and move on. You probably got better at doing PE interviews and your going to develop a thicker skin. 

I would just get another offer from another PE

On the bright side you probably dodged a bullet by not getting the offer TBH.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Restr
Sep 12, 2021 - 12:15pm

Of course you can recruit, but the advice to 'move on' is silly. You've probably lived through hell and challenges most of us can't fathom, so I'm not going to question your strength and durability. You will get an offer, maybe even a better one. You have a lot to gain by filing with both the EEOC and the Federal Courts. It appears these people broke a slew of federal laws, and should be brought to account. I, for one, would like to know the name of the Firm. If you were an LP in a fund that is being dragged in a discrimination lawsuit in the year 2021, would you give them the benefit of the doubt or look elsewhere to invest? GPs are a dime a dozen, just too many of em today.

Sep 16, 2021 - 3:01pm

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