The former New Zealand boss of JPMorgan Chase - who allegedly lost a job opportunity when the corporate giant refused to confirm he was previously its local chief executive - will need to bring any claim against the bank in the District or High Court.

That follows a Court of Appeal decision yesterday which ruled, in essence, that the Employment Court was not the appropriate forum for the dispute.

Robert Lewis was the local head of JPMorgan Chase from 2008 to March 2010 and filed a complaint against the bank with the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) some six months after he left the firm.

Events the year before had led to Lewis raising a personal grievance where he alleged he had been unjustifiably disadvantaged in his employment.


In March 2010 - the day before he left JPMorgan Chase - Lewis and the bank reached a deal to solve this grievance and gave the terms under which he would leave his job.

Lewis, according to an earlier Employment Court decision, claims that when he applied for a position with Westpac in 2010 he said he was JPMorgan Chase's local chief executive, but when Westpac checked this his former employer allegedly denied it.

Lewis claims that despite a subsequent attempt to have JPMorgan Chase correct its records "he both lost the opportunity for employment and suffered distress" during the next six months before he found work. He was seeking $50,000 in damages for this alleged "distress" as well as $120,000 for lost income.

After his complaint was refused by the ERA, Lewis took it to the Employment Court, where JPMorgan Chase applied to have it thrown out.

When Chief Employment Court Judge Graeme Colgan refused to do so, the bank took the matter to the Court of Appeal.

Justices Lynton Stevens, Christine French, and Mark Cooper, however, allowed that appeal yesterday. The consequence is that if Lewis wishes to pursue his claim he will have to do so in the District or High Court.