There have been several large overtime pay collective action cases in recent years involving bankers. Ever since Wells Fargo management decided to fire 5,500 bankers who were allegedly involved in the unauthorized new account scandal, our phones have been ringing steadily with call from unhappy bank employees. As a group, individual bankers, tellers, customer service representatives and private bankers have not been pleased with how they are being treated by the bank. Rank and file employees are being punished yet there are few consequences for the managers who created the scheme.
Most of the calls we receive come from Wells Fargo, but employees at other banks are also beginning to standup to unfair pay practices. One of the biggest pay issues facing bank workers is unpaid overtime. The bank tells many of these folks that they are exempt from the mandates of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) yet the law puts little weight on what an employer tells workers.
Actual job duties are much more relevant in overtime determination than one’s title. This is especially true in banks where many people in banks are labeled as “assistant vice presidents.”
JPMorgan Chase Overtime Pay Case
To better understand the issue, we need only go back to the 2014 overtime case involving JPMorgan Chase business bankers. Kevin Royer, Kris Henry and Mikhail Lerman were all business bankers working at Chase. In November of 2011, the three filed an FLSA lawsuit claiming unpaid overtime. The court later certified their case as a class or “collective action” case.
Business bankers at Chase work out of the branches. Their primary duty is to sell financial products and services to business customers. At the time of the lawsuit, they were paid salary plus commission.
To accommodate customers, business bankers frequently work long hours and must respond to cell phone calls when off the clock. That means that Chase business bankers often work more than 40 hours per week. Unfortunately, the bank refused them to pay overtime no matter how many hours they worked.
Rather than address the facts and merits of claims, Chase first attempted to get the lawsuit moved to their home turf in California. Chase was already facing similar claims in California, although the bankers in the California were hourly whereas the bankers in this case were paid by salary. The bank’s efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
We believe the bank knew that its business bankers were likely to prevail in their claims against the bank. When they couldn’t get the case moved to a more favorable location, Chase decided to settle. The court subsequently approved the settlement in 2014. Under the terms of the agreement, Chase business bankers in certain states will receive approximately 10 million of additional compensation.
Many banks tell employees that they are exempt from overtime and most of those employees never question those assertions! Remember, however, that the employer’s classification scheme is given little weight. Instead, the law looks to the actual job duties.
For example, often we will hear that a worker has been denied overtime because they a manager or professional. Bank workers already know that management “titles” are assigned to virtually everyone in the bank. Unless they have the authority to make hiring and firing decisions, however, chances are the so-called managers and assistant managers are not managers as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
To be exempt from overtime pay, professionals usually must be licensed by the state (e.g. a lawyer) and the position must require a specific advanced degree.
As one of the leading lender liability and financial sector whistleblower law firms, we deal with banking, mortgage lending and financial services professionals every day. It’s an industry we understand. If you worked for a bank, brokerage firm, or mortgage lender and were denied overtime pay, you may have a claim.
Under the FLSA, workers improperly denied overtime are eligible for double damages and attorney’s fees. Employers can’t retaliate against workers who file FLSA claims either.
Bankers shouldn’t have to work 50 or 60 hours per week and only get paid for 40. While front line financial services employees work hard to support their families, senior bank executives get paid exorbitant salaries and bonuses.
For more information, please visit our FLSA overtime page. Better yet, contact attorney Katherine Holiday at or the author of this post, attorney Brian Mahany at or by phone at (direct). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential.
MahanyLaw – America’s FLSA and Overtime Pay Lawyers