A proposed class action lawsuit alleges JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. has maintained a “segregated employment policy” that’s disproportionately placed African American personal bankers at lower-income branches and afforded the employees fewer promotional or transfer opportunities than non-African American bankers at high-income branches.
Filed in Louisiana’s Eastern District, the 12-page lawsuit alleges that as a result of African American personal bankers being placed more frequently in lower-income branches, the employees are paid less given their income is based in part on commission. The lawsuit describes JP Morgan Chase Bank’s alleged company-wide conduct as “an ongoing nationwide pattern and practice of race discrimination.”
The plaintiff, an Orleans Parish resident who worked at two of JP Morgan Chase Bank’s branches in New Orleans between June 2011 and January 2019, alleges in the suit that JP Morgan Chase Bank has engaged in a number of “intentionally” discriminatory practices. In addition to being assigned more frequently to “lower performing and less safe” branches, including by way of what the plaintiff calls “open race matching and racial steering,” proposed class members are disproportionately excluded from certain job assignments, titles, promotions and management assessment and selection opportunities, the case claims. Further, the suit alleges JP Morgan Chase Bank has disproportionately placed African American personal bankers in branches that have experienced “more criminal activity,” with the employees forced to work in unsafe environments more often than non-African American employees.
From there, the plaintiff moves onto JP Morgan Chase Bank’s “Private Client” program, which the suit describes as a “prestigious” offering for customers with more than $250,000 in assets held by the bank. “Private Client” customers can receive additional personal service, lower transaction costs and access to a number of other benefits. According to the suit, personal bankers with access to “Private Client” customers are party to “substantially greater business and income opportunities."
The case claims, however, that “Private Client” JP Morgan Chase Bank locations are found largely in affluent areas and are “disproportionately absent” from the predominantly African American communities to which proposed class members are allegedly directed by the defendant.
“Therefore, African American Personal Bankers are disproportionately excluded from becoming Private Client Personal Bankers and working at Private Client bank branches, thereby harming their compensation and promotional opportunities,” the lawsuit alleges.
With regard to the plaintiff’s experience, the lawsuit claims that the woman was assigned sometime between 2014 and 2015 to a new white male manager who proceeded to fire “approximately seven” African American employees. At least two of the fired workers were replaced by white employees, the plaintiff says. According to the lawsuit, the manager “was quicker to discipline and fire African American employees” than white workers over similar infractions. Moreover, the plaintiff alleges she received racist text messages from the manager.
The plaintiff claims that although she pursued available opportunities to develop her skills and equip herself for potential management roles with the bank, she was denied promotions and “repeatedly passed over for management positions.” In one instance in 2017, the lawsuit says, the plaintiff was passed over for a promotion after being told a white woman was being groomed for the role instead.
For her final application for a management position, the plaintiff was told that her numbers weren’t high enough, according to the complaint. The woman argues that her performance benchmarks were “artificially limited by her continued placement in low-performing branches with less wealthy clientele” linked to the defendant’s allegedly discriminatory policies.
Lastly, the lawsuit claims the plaintiff’s physical safety was put at risk given she was placed by JP Morgan Chase Bank in branches located in neighborhoods stricken with more criminal activity. By way of example, the complaint states that around July 2018, a sister store in the same neighborhood as the plaintiff’s branch was robbed for a third time since the woman started her employment with the bank. Although the robbery happened down the street from the plaintiff’s branch, the woman “was forced to stay at her branch until 9:00 p.m. and count down an ATM with approximately $75,000,” the lawsuit says.
“This incident increased [the plaintiff’s] anxiety significantly,” the suit states.
The lawsuit looks to represent all African American personal bankers who worked for JP Morgan Chase Bank within the last four years and were subjected to any of the policies or practices described by the plaintiff.
The complaint can be found below.
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