Clash of Employee and Company Actions

james iannazzo

Recently, one of the top-ranking financial advisers at the wealth and investment management division of Bank of America, James Iannazzo, was fired and arrested. That happened after he berated a few smoothie shop employees, threw a drink at them, tried to force his way into the shop’s employees-only area, and called one of the employees a “fucking immigrant”. The situation developed in a Robeks smoothie franchise in Fairfield, Connecticut, about an hour after Iannazzo purchased his drink and left without causing any incidents.

Filmed Incident

A recently deleted video that went viral on social media platforms showed Iannazzo screaming at the shop’s employees, claiming that he wanted to talk to whoever made his drink, using obscene language, and calling the employees “ignorant high school kids”. According to the video, one of the employees told the former financial adviser to call the corporate department of the franchise, and he responds with more profanities while throwing a drink at the employee. Later in the video, Iannazzo is shown calling the same employee an “immigrant loser” and other profanities, and then attempting to force entry into an employee-only area of the shop. A worker is also shown trying to hold Iannazzo against the door to the employees’ section.

Cause of Incident

According to the police report from the situation, Iannazzo had gone back to the smoothie shop because when he ordered his original drink, he asked for a smoothie without peanut butter, because his son was allergic to it. However, his son ended up having an allergic reaction to the drink and was taken to the hospital. The employees of the smoothie shop told the police officers that the former financial adviser did ask for the drink to be without any peanuts, but had never mentioned any allergies. After the incident that appeared on social media, Iannazzo was arrested and charged with intimidation based on bias or bigotry, as well as on breach of peace and criminal trespassing.

Aftermath

AdvisorHub has stated that Iannazzo has been working for the investment and wealth management company Merrill Lynch for over 26 years, and was also named as one of the best wealth management advisors in Connecticut by Forbes. In a statement released after the situation, the company said that Iannazzo was fired because Merrill Lynch doesn’t tolerate this type of behavior. A spokesperson for the investment and wealth management company stated that Merrill Lynch immediately investigated the situation and took action, which is why Iannazzo wasn’t employed at the company any longer.

In a statement for AdvisorHub, Iannazzo said that he would be apologizing both to the Smoothie shop staff and the company. Meanwhile, his lawyer stated that he was regretting his actions recorded in the video, which were out of character. He’s due to appear in court in February, after being arrested following the incident. Merrill Lynch took the right steps in addressing the situation involving Iannazzo, by investigating what happened and subsequently letting go of the employee.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and Chairman of 5WPR, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company’s growth, overseeing more than 275 professionals in the company’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world’s most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine’s Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country’s foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations,” which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.

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