JPMorgan Managers’ Nationwide FLSA Action Proceeds

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By Jay-Anne B. Casuga

Sept. 12 — JPMorgan Chase & Co. must face an overtime collective action brought by assistant branch managers from across the nation after a federal judge gave initial approval to the workers’ proposed class ( Varghese v. JPMorgan Chase & Co. , 2016 BL 294700, S.D.N.Y., No. 14-1718, 9/9/16 ).

Assistant branch managers who worked at Chase Bank locations in at least nine states alleged that JPMorgan misclassified them as exempt from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Judge Paul G. Gardephe of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said.

The workers showed that their experiences of working more than 40 hours per week without overtime compensation “reflected a company-wide policy,” the judge said. This means the workers showed that they are similar to other assistant branch managers who potentially could join the lawsuit, which is an initial requirement for FLSA class actions to proceed, the judge ruled Sept. 9.

The ruling provides a chance for other assistant branch managers to “have their day in court,” Karl J. Stoecker of the Law Offices of Karl J. Stoecker in New York, one of the attorneys representing the workers in the case, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 12.

In FLSA collective actions, plaintiffs must affirmatively join the suit. This is known as “opting into” the action.

Stoecker declined to speculate on how many assistant branch managers eventually may opt into the collective action, explaining that it’s “too early” to tell and numbers would be “fluid.” Chase Bank operates approximately 5,300 branches nationwide.

JPMorgan representatives didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg BNA’s Sept. 12 request for comment. The company will have an opportunity later in the litigation to try to decertify the collective action after the parties obtain additional evidence through a pre-trial procedure known as discovery.

Other Banks Facing Class Actions

The company joins other banks and financial institutions that also are facing overtime class or collective actions this year, including PNC Bank N.A. and Fifth Third Bank. Those cases similarly include allegations that employees were misclassified as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime provisions.

JPMorgan has settled other class wage claims brought by bank employees in the past few years.

For example, in October 2014, it agreed to pay $12 million to settle the wage and hour claims of approximately 145,000 bankers, tellers and other hourly workers in 12 states. In 2011, JPMorgan settled for $42 million FLSA and state law wage claims brought by a class of about 3,800 loan processors.

In addition to Stoecker, Alan L. Quiles of Ruden, McClosky, Smith, Schuster & Russell in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Gregg I. Shavitz and Michael J. Palitz of the Shavitz Law Group in Boca Raton, Fla., and New York represent the assistant branch managers. Sam S. Shaulson and Thomas A. Linthorst of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in New York and Princeton, N.J., represent JPMorgan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga in Washington at jcasuga@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com

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