By Carlyn Kolker
NEW YORK, Feb 22 (Reuters) - A federal judge has thrown out
a proposed collective action alleging JPMorgan Chase & Co
shortchanged branch employees by denying them overtime, dealing
a new blow to such employee actions.
In the decision, U.S. District Judge Vincent Briccetti in
White Plains, New York, granted JPMorgan's motion to dismiss a
lawsuit by Tiffany Ryan, a former assistant branch manager who
sued Chase Bank in June 2012.
Ryan, who said she was misclassified as a so-called exempt
employee who was not entitled to overtime, sought collective
action status for assistant branch managers in purportedly
similar positions. "It has been Chase's nationwide policy to
deprive its assistant branch managers of earned overtime wages,"
Ryan wrote in the complaint, which said the bank violated the
federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
In dismissing Ryan's lawsuit, Briccetti also granted the
bank's motion to compel arbitration, citing a binding agreement
in which bank employees agree to resolve employment-related
disputes through arbitration rather than litigation. While
Ryan's attorneys argued that the agreement was not enforceable
because employees' rights to collective actions could not be
waived, Briccetti sided with the bank. Citing the 2011 Supreme
Court decision AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion and subsequent
lower-court rulings that referred to the decision, Briccetti
ruled that Ryan must arbitrate her claims as an individual.
"At bottom, the Court finds the class waiver is fair,
permits plaintiff to vindicate her statutory rights under the
FLSA, does not hinder her ability to recover attorney's fees or
costs, and comports with public policy favoring arbitration and
honoring private contracts," Briccetti wrote in an 11-page
Donald Sapir, an attorney representing Ryan, and Thomas
Linthorst, an attorney representing the bank, did not return
messages seeking comment.
The case is Tiffany Ryan v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., U.S.
District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 12-cv-04844.
For Tiffany Ryan: Donald Sapir and Howard Schragin of Sapir
& Frumkin and Adam Klein, Molly Brooks and Michael Scimone of
Outten & Golden.
For JPMorgan: Thomas Linthorst of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
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