One of the world’s largest asset managers, VanEck, short-changed an Australian executive by more than $100,000 over six years, a new lawsuit alleges.
Russell Grigg, the fund manager’s former legal and compliance director, claims he only discovered the underpayments in March 2021 after VanEck increased his salary to $280,000.
Documents lodged with the Federal Circuit Court by Mr Grigg’s lawyers claim he should be compensated $102,651.
According to the documents, VanEck was meant to pay Mr Grigg superannuation on top of a base salary of $280,000 but instead paid him $255,708 and an additional $24,292 in super.
“As a consequence of this breach of contract and contravention, (Mr Grigg) suffered loss and damage,” the filings read.
Mr Grigg started working at VanEck in August 2013 and signed an employment contract to receive a base salary of $151,030 a year with added superannuation of $13,970.
Mr Grigg met VanEck’s Australian managing director, Arian Neiron, annually to discuss his salary.
He received six pay rises between 2016 and 2021, increasing his base salary from $151,030 to $280,000.
However in March, after his salary was increased to $280,000, Mr Grigg met VanEck’s head of human resources, Megan Rapple, allegedly saying he discovered he had been underpaid since January 2016.
In April, Ms Rapple wrote an email to Mr Grigg revising the company’s offer of a pay rise, changing his pay to be a total of $280,000, including a base salary of $255,708 and super of $24,292, the documents read.
“There may have been a misunderstanding when communicating past increases to remuneration and we acknowledge we could have done a better job communicating,” Ms Rapple allegedly wrote.
Mr Grigg replied to Ms Rapple’s email on April 12 last year, saying he did not agree with the revised salary and that Mr Neiron had been “quite clear” that his base salary was meant to increase to $280,000, the documents read.
Ms Rapple responded on April 14, saying every salary increase had included superannuation, according to the claim.
“We have made our position clear and have provided you with an amended statement for clarification purposes. From our side, we do not believe there is more to discuss here,” she allegedly wrote.
Mr Grigg – who previously held senior legal positions at MLC, Perpetual and BetaShares – resigned from VanEck on May 27 because he was “frustrated” with the company’s responses to his complaints.
His last day at the investment firm was at the end of June.
In October, Mr Grigg’s lawyer wrote to VanEck and demanded compensation for the alleged underpayments but the company has still not offered to repay the former legal and compliance director, they continued.
VanEck has denied underpaying Mr Grigg but otherwise declined to comment.