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JPMorgan Chase Fends Off Overtime-Pay Lawsuit

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has persuaded a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that sought tens of thousands of dollars in overtime pay for its assistant branch managers.

Tiffany Ryan, who worked for the nation's biggest bank by assets for roughly two years as an assistant branch manager, must submit her claim to arbitration under the terms of an agreement she signed upon accepting employment with JPMorgan, U.S. District Judge Vincent Briccetti in White Plains, N.Y., ruled on Friday.

The decision, which was first reported by Reuters, follows a recent agreement by Bank of America (BAC) to pay $12 million to settle a class action seeking overtime pay sales assistants at Merrill Lynch.

Ryan, who worked for JPMorgan at branches in Pleasantville, N.Y. and Bedford, N.Y. over a roughly two-year period starting in March 2010, sued JPMorgan in June to recover unpaid overtime wages the company allegedly failed to pay her and hundreds of other assistant branch managers in violation of federal law.

JPMorgan asked the court in August to toss out Ryan's claim because she agreed to submit any employment-related disputes to binding arbitration. Ryan agreed to pursue her claims individually and waived her right to arbitrate or sue the bank on behalf of other workers, according to the company.

Though Ryan charged that the requirement she arbitrate her claims individually prevented her from enforcing her legal rights, the "contention that her right to proceed collectively under the [Fair Labor Standards Act] cannot be waived is without merit," Briccetti wrote in his opinion.

Thomas Linthorst, an attorney representing JPMorgan, and Donald Sapir, an attorney representing Ryan, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Ryan's lawsuit described her job as a "low-level position" that mostly involves serving as a teller and handling tasks related to customer service. JPMorgan exempted assistant branch managers from federal rules that would have entitled the workers to overtime even though their duties were substantially the same as tellers, who were eligible for overtime, according to Ryan.

In his opinion, Briccetti notes that Ryan said she is entitled to at least $9,800 in back pay, although her damages could be higher. For its part, JPMorgan estimated Ryan's damages claim to be roughly $43,000, according to the court.




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