A former NationsBank broker has filed an arbitration claim alleging breach of contract and retaliatory actions, and seeking more than $500,000 in damages.

Christina Shantz, who left her job with NationsSecurities in March 1995 and now works as an insurance agent, made various other claims in her filing with the National Association of Securities Dealers.

"They never gave her a lawful place in which to work and when she complained they punished her for it," said her lawyerJonathan Alpert, a partner with Alpert, Barker & Calcutt in Tampa.

A NationsBank spokesman declined to comment on Ms. Shantz's claim, saying the company had not seen the filing.

The arbitration filing stands as a reminder of the special risks that banks face as they press further into the business of selling mutual funds and insurance. Deservedly or not, a growing number have been attracting complaints from customers and employees, undermining their reputation for being soundly run.

Ms. Shantz's filing included a copy of her exit interview questionnaire. It detailed her dissatisfaction with management and supposedly substandard working conditions - including lack of a computer and pressure to sell proprietary mutual funds.

In response to the question "What did you like least about your employment at NationsSecurities?" Ms. Shantz replied: "Too much emphasis on sales to elderly and unsophisticated clients."

Although he has represented many customers and former employees in actions against banks in the retail securities business, Mr. Alpert said he doesn't believe these complaints should dissuade regulators from easing certain restrictions on banks.

"The problems of some of the problem banks should not overshadow the need for financial modernization," he said.

"These issues of integrity should not interfere with all banks ... being allowed to compete on a level playing field with other financial institutions," he added.

Mr. Alpert said he expects an NASD arbitration hearing to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in six to 12 months.

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