Russell Chweidan went skiing with a client in March 2007 and hurt his back.
According to the Financial Times, he spent two weeks in the hospital and then had to use a back brace and crutches.
The next year, JPMorgan gave him a $450,000 bonus — 44% less than his bonus from the year before ($648,000) and well below what he expected.
He was insulted. His was the largest proportionate drop among his peers, according to the FT. An associate earned “marginally” less. A vice president earned a $700,000 bonus. And Chweidan’s job at JPMorgan, an executive director, was superior to both of theirs.
So Chweidan claimed discrimination and sued the firm. But JPMorgan hit back. He didn’t deserve more than $450,000, the firm said. He had a reputation as a “one-account sales person.” (One client was 65% of his account.) And he worked shorter hours and “and was not available in the evening to entertain potential new clients,” the firm said. In court in September, a judge seemed to agree.
“The claimant was engaged in an industry with high bonuses (by reference to salary) and a somewhat ruthless approach to redundancies and dismissals generally,” said the judge, and the case was referred to an employment tribunal. It was heard again yesterday by the court of appeal.
His lawyer argued in court yesterday that Chweidan was the joint second highest earner out of eight employees in the hedge fund sales credit team.
But JPMorgan won’t hear it, saying again that he was fired because he was unable to expand his client list. He was fired during the financial crisis in July 2008. Now he works at Bank of China in London, and he’s back in the court of appeal with JPMorgan.
The judge hasn’t made a decision yet.