Cushman & Wakefield cans broker who sued company

James Rougan says he was cheated out of $1M commission on Amazon lease at 7 West 34th St.
By Rich Bockmann | May 16, 2016 05:50PM

Cushman and Wakefield sacked a veteran dealmaker last week who claimed the firm stiffed him on $1 million in commissions. And now the broker is considering adding a wrongful termination to his list of grievances.

Broker James Rougan got the axe last week, days after he filed a lawsuit accusing Cushman management of awarding another broker his owed 50 percent split due from a large Midtown office lease for Amazon.

A representative for the firm declined to comment, but Rougan’s attorney said he’s looking into whether his client was fired in retaliation for filing the lawsuit.

“They’re going to say whatever they’re going to say, but the timing certainly suggests a connection,” attorney Stephen Meister told TRD. “We were very surprised, to be honest.”

Rougan, who had been with the company for 20 years, claims in his suit that he and fellow broker Jeffrey Heller had a longstanding agreement to split the commission 50/50 when they negotiated a deal for Amazon to lease 470,000 square feet at Vornado Realty Trust’s 7 West 34th Street in 2014.

The two had worked together in 2011 to negotiate space for the e-commerce website at 35 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, but when Heller, who is more senior, learned that Amazon wanted to lease the entire building on 34th Street he tried to elbow Rougan out of the deal, the lawsuit claims.

Rougan said he appealed to management to settle the dispute, but leaders including tri-state President Ron Lo Russo ignored his calls and emails. The broker is suing to collect his $1 million commission plus $1 million in damages.

For Cushman, this is the latest in a string of lawsuits accusing management of unfair practices. In March, former director Janice Li sued the firm, claiming she was discriminated against on the basis of age and gender when she was fired and replaced by an inexperienced and under-qualified male.

The company’s former head of research for the America’s, Maria Sicola, filed a similar lawsuit last year. And in 2013, former COO Suzy Reingold accused the company of passing her over for a promotion due to her age and gender.

Reingold left the company the following year, explaining only that the lawsuit had been “resolved,” and ended up landing a job at rival brokerage Colliers International.