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Trial-worthy allegations of retaliation from an ex-JPMorgan Compliance executive

A federal judge decided that a jury could find that the claims made by a former JPMorgan Chase Bank compliance executive who claimed she was let go for raising concerns are true.

Shaquala Williams filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan in November, claiming she was let go as a result of criticizing the bank's compliance program and misleading regulators about a 2016 settlement of bribery claims in the Asia Pacific region.

Williams joined the bank's global anti-corruption compliance department as a vice president in July 2018. She claimed that the bank fired her in retaliation for her attempts to voice her concerns about the bank's anti-money laundering (AML) compliance program internally in October 2019.

Williams' case will go to trial in December in the Southern District of New York, according to District Judge Jed Rakoff's ruling on July 26.

Williams participated in "protected activity" of whistleblowing by pointing out flaws in JPMorgan's AML compliance program before the bank started taking employment actions against her, like issuing negative performance reviews and starting an investigation into her work. This is the main reason the judge decided to allow the case to proceed.

Williams was fired by JPMorgan, according to JPMorgan, for reasons unrelated to her engaging in protected whistleblowing activity. The bank claimed that a number of JPMorgan supervisors and at least one junior employee expressed dissatisfaction with Williams's work and claimed that she fostered a hostile work environment.

The judge said that there is a "genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the record clearly and convincingly shows that JPMorgan would have terminated Williams notwithstanding her protected activity."

"A reasonable jury could conclude that Williams’s protected activity was a contributing factor to her termination. Ultimately, ‘to weigh these competing narratives’ requires evaluating the credibility of the plaintiff and her supervisors, a task reserved for trial." according to Rakoff.

Williams' claim that JPMorgan interfered with a post-employment opportunity with the New York State Attorney General's office was rejected by the judge in the same decision. JPMorgan responded that it has a policy not to discuss the reasons behind any employee termination, contrary to Williams' claims that the bank would not respond to inquiries from the AG's office regarding the termination of her employment. According to the judgment, she was subsequently hired by Wells Fargo and given the same role that she had at JPMorgan.

When reached, JPMorgan opted not to comment.



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