JPMorgan Chase & Co. must face a U.S. Labor Department lawsuit that alleges the company systematically paid female employees less than men, a federal labor appeals panel has ruled, putting a fresh spotlight on pay equity in the financial services industry.
The decision by a three-judge Administrative Review Board panel, issued on Oct. 5 but not widely reported, marked the second time JPMorgan lost an effort to dismiss the claims. The financial institution, represented by a team from McGuireWoods, earlier failed to convince an administrative law judge to dismiss the Labor Department’s allegations. The review board this month rejected a petition from the bank that could have shut down the case.
The appeals panel said JPMorgan, sued by the Labor Department in January, had not shown any “exceptional circumstances” to force an end to the case. Now, the dispute will return to an administrative judge for a final decision. The complaint seeks, among other things, an injunction barring JPMorgan from discriminating against female employees and it demands lost pay and salary adjustments for the affected class of workers.
An order against JPMorgan could jeopardize the continuation of current federal contracts and even bar any future contracts.
The case against JPMorgan will move forward concurrently with two other closely watched Labor Department actions against major U.S. companies. The Labor Department is investigating Google Inc. for alleged gender-based pay disparities. Separately, Oracle Corp. was sued on Jan. 17 for alleged discriminatory employment practices, including pay equity violations. Oracle called the Labor Department’s complaint “politically motivated.”
McGuireWoods partner William Doyle Jr. in North Carolina, a lawyer for JPMorgan, was not immediately reached for comment Monday. Doyle, who joined the firm in 2015, formerly served as deputy director of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the enforcement and regulatory arm that conducts compliance review of contractors.
A Labor Department spokesperson declined to comment Monday about the Administrative Review Board ruling. A representative from JPMorgan also did not immediatelty comment.