Former Rocket VP accuses execs of bad behavior in lawsuit

A former Rocket Mortgage vice president is suing the lender for firing him while he was on medical leave, alleging years of hostile treatment from company executives. 

Clinton Riley says Rocket violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other counts, in a complaint filed recently in a Michigan federal court. The suit describes numerous hostile remarks and scoldings from leaders including since-departed CEO Bob Walters, although none of them are named as co-defendants.

The ex-divisional vice president of vendor operations began his tenure at Rocket in 2009 as a mortgage broker. He claims Chief Client Experience Officer Heather Lovier fired him last December one day before a scheduled return from medical leave. 

Riley suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and Lovier’s constant ill treatment since 2016 adversely impacted him, he said. Lovier shouted at Riley and insulted him in front of colleagues on multiple occasions. The supervisor also deemed Riley untrustworthy a few times because he said he was in a relationship but unmarried with no children. 

“Lovier’s hostility towards Riley was so blatant that several of Riley’s subordinates declared that they never wanted to be promoted if it meant being subjected to Lovier’s emotional abuse,” the complaint said. 

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, a Rocket Cos. spokesperson disputed the lawsuit and cited dozens of workplace accolades the megalender had earned over the past two decades. 

“The company will vigorously fight against these baseless allegations, and we are confident we will be vindicated once the facts of the case are presented in a court of law,” the statement said. 

An attorney for Riley didn’t respond to a request for comment. A summons for Rocket was issued last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. 

Lovier allegedly warned the vice president that her hostility was nothing compared to what Walters or former CEO Jay Farner would do. In one December 2020 meeting, Walters aggressively interrupted Riley during a presentation, raising his voice and seeming physically upset, the suit said.

“At one point Riley asked Walters to let him answer one question before interrupting with the next, and in response Walters called Riley and his team ‘communists’ who were ‘dogs just wagging your tails,’ the complaint said. 

Two of Riley’s colleagues allegedly stepped down from divisional vice president positions following that meeting, citing Walters’ menacing behavior. One colleague suggested to Riley to  “learn to deal with Walters’ ‘quirks'”; Riley claims he reported the CEO’s behavior to human resources. 

In February 2022, Riley unsuccessfully applied for a promotion. In an interview, Lovier cited his experience in the Walters meeting and disparaged Riley’s attitude despite his never receiving any disciplinary action during his time at Rocket.

Riley in March 2022 took FMLA leave after a physician recommended he address severe depression, anxiety and stress. Last December, the vice president was preparing to return to work and was given a tracking number for a new laptop, badge and other work equipment. A day before a Dec. 6 return date, Riley had yet to receive his package, and Lovier then told him he was terminated. 

The complaint didn’t specify the amount of damages Riley is seeking from Rocket.

The industry’s top lender faces other lawsuits from loan officers accusing it of failing to pay overtime, claims Rocket has disputed.


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