An LPL Financial advisor told her team that she didn’t want to interview any Black job applicants for an open position in her office, according to videos posted on TikTok and shared widely on social media.
Denise Bradley, who goes by auntkaren0 on TikTok, identifies a “racist of the day” on the video-sharing platform. She featured LPL advisor Eileen Cure, of Cure and Associates with offices in Nederland and Montgomery, Texas, after she says Cure’s staff forwarded images of the Skype comments to her.
Bradley alleges Cure told staff in a Skype message: “I specifically said no Blacks. I am not a prejudiced person but our clients are 90% white and I need to cater to them. That interview was a complete waste of my time, please don’t second guess me or go against what I ask. Listen to me and give me what I ask for, please.”
In an interview with Financial Planning, Bradley says she felt the Skype messages were worthy of posting on TikTok because “People do not believe that people of color have a challenge when it comes to getting positions and getting jobs,” she says. “I wanted to show that we do have a challenge, and it’s not as people think, like we’re all equal.”
Bradley also alleges several of Cure’s staff have resigned since the comments came to light. Cure has allegedly asked staff for their phone information and service provider apparently to determine who on the staff leaked the messages.
“She already made retaliatory statements about how she wouldn’t approve their CPA internship credit hours, and this is very serious because when someone’s trying to be a CPA, you need those things,” Bradley says. “I was then told that her [former] husband came in the next day and demanded their phone provider information and interrogated them.”
In an email, a spokesperson for LPL says they are aware of the videos and are “deeply concerned” by the statements attributed to Cure.
“We immediately launched an internal investigation to review the matter, and a decision is forthcoming this week regarding Ms. Cure’s relationship with the firm. We will not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our LPL community,” the spokesperson says.
Curtis, we condemn racism and aim to create an inclusive workplace where everyone feels they belong. An internal investigation is underway.
— LPL Financial (@LPL) July 29, 2021
Cure did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
LPL’s internal investigation is still underway, but Twitter user Tfarragut8435 posted that Cure allegedly has closed their offices at least at one location.
A photo posted alongside the Tweet showed a police cruiser stationed outside the Nederland office.
When contacted for comment, a detective with the Nederland Police Department was unable to say why the cruiser was parked there and whether any threats had been made against Cure.
TikTokker Bradley says LPL’s statement “says to me that they are taking the allegations seriously and that they want to make sure that they align with their mission for equality, and that is important to me.”
“The ideal outcome for me is that not only does she learn from this experience, but that she feels the loss of her employment as people have lost potential employment with her. I don’t think this is someone who made a mistake one time,” she said. “I don’t think she deserves to have a company if she’s not willing to be diverse and represent the culture and the people that she so claims to want to represent.”
A former Cure employee who spoke to Financial Planning on the condition of anonymity says they were shown a screenshot of the Skype chat on June 30 by another worker.
“I was angry and upset. I wanted to report her, but I didn’t. I didn’t really know what avenues to go,” they say.
According to this former employee, nearly a month later, Cure got word that a staffer had leaked the contents of the Skype chat. She messaged her employees on July 27, telling them they would be questioned by a private investigator — who is allegedly Cure’s ex-husband — to find the source of the leak. The former employee says they don’t know the identity of the leaker.
The former employee submitted their resignation that same day and was told they shouldn’t put Cure as a reference or list their employment at the firm on their resume.
Around five employees have resigned as a result of this incident, the anonymous source says.
Until this incident, Cure never allegedly showed any instances of racial bias, according to the former Cure employee. However, she could be a demanding boss at times, they say.
There are several potential legal cases if the allegations are true, says Randall Schmidt, professor of law at the University of Chicago, who directs the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic and specializes in employment discrimination cases. He says if she rejected a Black applicant because of their race, she has violated Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race discrimination in hiring.
“It’s not so much the messages, it’s whether she actually did this,” Schmidt says. “There are very, very few limited exceptions to allow a company to discriminate on the basis of customer preference, and this certainly is not one of them.”
He added that LPL, not Cure, would be liable for a discrimination lawsuit.
“If they take steps to stop this and prevent it in the future, it does not relieve them of their obligation with respect to the person or persons who applied and were rejected simply because of their race,” he says.
Cure’s alleged actions could also lead to suits claiming retaliation and a hostile work environment, Schmidt says.
“They might have a cause of action against the company for retaliation because they are opposing something that they believe in good faith is discriminatory. Other employees might have a claim that her comments are sufficiently severe and pervasive to create a hostile work environment. If there are African American workers at the firm, they would have a potential hostile work environment claim. Now, with respect to that claim, the company can eliminate this liability by doing an investigation and taking reasonable steps to stop and prevent this from happening in the future,” Schmidt says.
On Cure’s website is a post titled “We’re hiring CPA.” The required qualifications are CPA certification, two years of experience in public accounting in income preparation, and comfort with managing the accounting department, according to the website.
There were two rounds of interviews for the open position, and of the three finalists, one was Black. Shortly afterward, Cure allegedly sent a Skype message, wondering why she was being asked to meet with a Black candidate, the former employee says.
In a separate video, Bradley also alleges Cure is “trying to silence my voice” and shows a screenshot of another Skype message from Cure, where she allegedly says she has a meeting with attorneys and aides to both Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Chip Roy “to discuss this incitement to hate crimes. I do feel this will be over soon and we can get back to normal.”
Cure has 20 years of experience in the industry and has worked at LPL since 2018. Before, she worked at HD Vest Investment Services from 2006 to 2018. Her career began in 1992 at Merrill Lynch, where she stayed for two years.
“There were a lot of ups and downs. She can be difficult to work with at some times. I never felt like I was in a hostile work environment until my last day,” the anonymous source says.