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JPMorgan Accused of Bias Against Black Personal Bankers (2)

Feb. 12, 2020, 3:54 PMUpdated: Feb. 12, 2020, 6:45 PM

JPMorgan Chase Bank NA discriminates against its black personal bankers by systematically assigning them to lower-income branches where they’re exposed to greater risks of physical harm, a new class lawsuit filed in federal court in New Orleans charges.

Angela Dunn filed the suit on behalf of herself and all other black personal bankers nationwide who were subjected to the bank’s racially discriminatory policies and practices at any time in the past four years. JPMorgan employs thousands of personal bankers in its more than 5,000 branch locations throughout the U.S., Dunn alleges in a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana Tuesday.

The discriminatory practices result in black personal bankers receiving lower pay and reduced chances for transfer and promotion than their white counterparts, who are disproportionately assigned to higher-income branches, Dunn says. JPMorgan’s segregation of its personal bankers is accomplished through “open race matching and racial steering,” the lawsuit says.

Black personal bankers are also disproportionately excluded from participation in the bank’s prestigious “private client” program, which services high-income clients with more than $250,000 in held assets, the suit charges. That results in black personal bankers missing out on opportunities to do “substantially greater business,” the suit says.

Dunn says she was repeatedly denied promotion to manager positions, including an opening “in the New Orleans market in 2017.” Chase branches in the neighborhood of her location have been robbed at least three times since she was hired in June 2011, she says.

JPMorgan has previously settled race discrimination allegations. In 2018, it paid $24 million to settle claims that it assigned white financial advisers to more affluent branches and limited opportunities for black advisers.

Cause of Action: 42 U.S.C. §1981.

Relief: Court orders requiring elimination of alleged racially discriminatory policies, race bias and diversity training for employees, and monitoring for compliance with anti-bias laws; back pay, front pay, and past benefits; compensatory and punitive damages; attorneys’ fees and costs.

Response: JPMorgan Chase told Bloomberg Law it had no comment on the suit.

Attorneys: Bohrer Brady LLC and Ellwanger Law LLP represent the proposed class.

The case is Dunn v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., E.D. La., No. 2:20-cv-00483, class complaint filed 2/11/20.

—With assistance from Paige Smith.

(The ninth paragraph of this Feb. 11 story has been updated to note that JPMorgan Chase declined to comment on the suit.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com