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Ex-employee’s retaliation charge against JP Morgan reinstated

JP Morgan

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of discrimination and hostile work environment claims made by a former JP Morgan Chase & Co. banker but reinstated his retaliation charge.

Erik E. Rivera filed suit against New York-based JP Morgan Chase and two of his supervisors under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and state law, according to Thursday’s ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in Erick E. Rivera v. JP Morgan Chase, Douglas Sellers; Mary Cappucio.

Mr. Rivera, who is of Ecuadorian origin, claimed his supervisors at JP Morgan Chase gave him less work than non-Ecuadorian bankers, verbally bullied him, suspended him and terminated him in retaliation for his complaints to human resources and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The U.S. District Court in Brooklyn dismissed all charges. A unanimous three-judge appeals court panel upheld dismissal of the discrimination and hostile work environment claims but reinstated the retaliation charge.

The ruling said Mr. Rivera “plausibly alleged that he complained to human resources in June 2010 that his supervisors were discriminating against him due to his national origin, and that JPMC retaliated against him in July 2010, by, among other things, ‘strip(ping) him of his duties,’ ‘divert(ing his) new clients to other bankers,’ suspending him, and terminating his employment,” the ruling said, citing his complaint.

The district court “properly concluded that Rivera’s complaint to human resources and his EEOC complaint were protected activity, and that his allegations of discipline, suspension, and termination were adverse employment actions,” the ruling said.

It erred, however, “in concluding that Rivera failed to plausibly allege a causal connection between his protected activity and the adverse employment action,” it said.

Mr. Rivera alleged that adverse employment actions began one to two months after he complained to human resources, the ruling said.

“Though there is no bright-line rule on temporal proximity, this Court has held that a one to two month period between the protected activity and adverse employment action is generally sufficient to make a prima facie causation showing,” it said in reinstating the retaliation charge and remanding the case for further proceedings.

JP Morgan Chase’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment, and contact information for Mr. Rivera, who represented himself in the litigation, was not provided.

In April, the 2nd Circuit overturned a lower court and reinstated retaliation charges filed by a New York teacher who received multiple disciplinary reprimands after filing complaints against her school district.