JPMorgan Settles Race Discrimination Suit with Financial Advisors for $24 Million

According to August 31, 2018, court filings, JPMorgan Chase & Co. reached a settlement with six current and former financial advisors who sued the company for racial discrimination. The settlement includes $19.5 million paid to the financial advisors, and a $4.5 million fund to implement an anti-bias program.

The six current and former employees—Kellie Farrish in California, Erika Williams in Illinois, Amanda Jason in Kentucky, Irvin Nash in New York, Jerome Senegal in Texas, and Brent Griffin in Wisconsin—filed a class action lawsuit alleging that JPMorgan treated them poorly because they are black. They alleged that black financial advisors throughout the company were assigned to less lucrative branches than their white counterparts, were understaffed, had few licensed bankers to support them, got paid less, and were not included in a program for wealthier clients. The lawsuit claims that the racial discrimination is “uniform and national in scope.”

The settlement comes as Wall Street banks, including JPMorgan, have been losing black workers over the past several years. JPMorgan’s own internal figures show that its percentage of black workers has decreased for six years in a row, from 16% in 2011 to 13.4% in 2017. At another Wall Street bank, Citigroup, Inc., black employees now account for only 10% of employees, down from about 16% in 2009. Both Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch have settled race discrimination suits in recent years, for $35.5 million and $160 million, respectively.

“Our clients are proud of this outcome and acknowledge that JPMorgan had a choice to fight [rather than settle the case],” the plaintiffs’ lawyer Linda Friedman said in an email to Bloomberg. “Each case builds on the last. This is how progress is made.”

JPMorgan denies any wrongdoing, and released a statement saying that the settlement “eliminates the need for litigation, allowing us to continue our focus on the diverse and inclusive environment that is critical to our success.”