Six plaintiffs allege in a proposed class action lawsuit that JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. provides “widely divergent compensation and opportunities” to financial advisers (FAs) depending on a worker’s race. The 21-page complaint, filed in Illinois, alleges that African Americans are “underrepresented” at the company and are “paid substantially less than their counterparts who are not African American.”
“These racial disparities result from Chase’s systemic, intentional race discrimination and from policies and practices that have an unlawful disparate impact on African Americans,” the plaintiffs claim.
Chase’s corporate policies—set by what the case describes as “an all-white team of senior executives”—governing compensation, teaming, territory assignments and resources segregate its workforce, according to the lawsuit. Though Chase claims to strive for an equal, fair playing field for all employees, the plaintiffs allege that “racial stereotypes, race matching and racial redlining” with regard to Chase’s bank branches and territories have led to the defendant assigning African American financial advisers to “less lucrative branches and territories.”
An example the complaint expands upon is how significant leads and support from licensed bankers reportedly are to Chase’s business opportunities. African Americans, the case claims, receive the short end of the stick in this area as well:
“African American FAs, however, are assigned branches with no or fewer licensed bankers. African American FAs are also often assigned to multiple, smaller branches, diluting their time and resources, and limiting the FAs’ ability to form consistent, productive relationships with lead-generating bankers and clients. As a result, and by the Firm’s design, African American FAs have less lucrative accounts and territories than their non-African American colleagues.”
Moreover, the alleged racially discriminatory policies at Chase ultimately trickle down to its lower-income customers, the lawsuit says, as financial advisers are allegedly “incentivized” to avoid servicing such individuals.
The case ultimately summarizes the plaintiffs' allegations by itemizing the Chase policies and procedures that reportedly harm African American employees:
“Defendant’s systemic discrimination against African Americans includes, but is not limited to, the following practices that are both intentionally discriminatory and have an unlawful disparate impact on African Americans:
a) Employing firm-wide policies and practices regarding the assignment, distribution and transfer of client accounts, leads, referrals, and other business opportunities that disproportionately steer lucrative accounts and compensation opportunities to Financial Advisors who are not African American;
b) Employing firm-wide policies and practices that assign African Americans to less lucrative territories and branches, including by open race matching and racial steering, and result in a segregated workforce and substantial racial disparities in earnings and attrition rates;
c) Employing firm-wide policies and practices that deny African Americans teaming opportunities, resources, and support on account of race, including licensed banking, Chase Private Client, management support, and other resources;
d) Employing firm-wide policies and practices regarding the assignment of jobs, titles, and designations, including but not limited to the Chase Private Client and JP Morgan designations, that disproportionately exclude African Americans;
e) Employing firm-wide policies and practices regarding hiring and assignment to the firm’s high net worth FA positions, including but not limited to Chase Private Client and JP Morgan, that harm and exclude African Americans;
f) Employing firm-wide, discriminatory policies and practices regarding job assignment, promotion, and management assessment and selection that harm and exclude African Americans; and
g) Employing firm-wide compensation policies and practices that disproportionately disadvantage African Americans.”