Bank boss fails in job title compo claim

By Kieran Campbell

The former chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase's New Zealand branch says he missed job opportunities because the bank failed to refer to his correct title.

Robert Wade Lewis said that after he left JPMorgan Chase the bank provided him with only a certificate of service in which they did not refer to him as the former chief executive officer.

Lewis took his claims of missed "employment opportunities" to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), saying he was owed "damages" because the bank "refused to confirm (his) role as CEO".

JPMorgan Chase admitted Lewis was employed as the CEO of the bank but disputed his claim, saying it was based on the "misconception" that the bank had any obligation to provide references for the former executive.

"Apparently the bank does not provide references but issues certificates of service only," ERA member James Crichton wrote in his findings, which were published today.

Crichton said Lewis' concern was that being described as the CEO represented a "position [that] has particular significance within the banking industry".

"He draws the [ERA's] attention to the fact that that role is of particular importance especially in terms of the relationship between [JPMorgan Chase] and the Reserve bank of New Zealand."

Crichton said the Reserve Bank considered the title of CEO could be held only by "a fit and proper person'".

However, Crichton said there was no evidence JPMorgan Chase had breached its contract with Lewis or that it owed him any damages.

"The short point is that there is no evidence ... that the settlement agreement has been breached. In particular, as to the suggestion that the bank has disparaged Mr Lewis, that allegation is vigorously denied."

Crichton said Lewis' claim "fails in its entirety".

There had been attempts at mediation between Lewis and the bank before the ERA decision was made.

Crichton said after Lewis first complained to the ERA, in September 2010, the bank made "an exception" to help him by referencing his role as CEO in his certificate of service.

- APNZ

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