Fired JPMorgan Trader Shows It Pays to Win Your Old Job Back
(Bloomberg) -- Fired employees often want nothing more to do with their old boss, but high earners in the U.K. might just want to fight to get that job back.
For one JPMorgan Chase & Co. trader in London, getting a court ruling that he should be re-hired after a 2020 dismissal means millions of pounds of back pay. That compares with only winning a claim of unfair dismissal in the U.K., where payouts are usually capped at just under 90,000 pounds ($119,600).
Bradley Jones, a former cash equities trader, this month won back a similar job to his $675,000-a-year London position at JPMorgan after a judge found the investment bank unfairly dismissed him in order to placate regulators in a market-spoofing probe. As part of the reinstatement, the bank will have to hand over millions in lost earnings.
It’s rare for a U.K. employment tribunal to make that ruling, but lawyers say cases like this could inspire other high-earning workers to seek more money for unfairly losing their jobs.
“We are seeing an increasing number of senior executives and those in highly specialized and well-paid roles seeking reinstatement or re-engagement,” said Shazia Khan, a founding partner of Cole Khan Solicitors who wasn’t involved in the case. “Although these are rarely ordered by tribunals they are on the increase and the present case neatly demonstrates the factors a tribunal will take account of.”
Jones’s situation echoes a similar case in 2019, when a London tribunal ordered Barclays Plc to rehire its former global head of electronic fixed income, currencies and commodities automated flow trading. David Fotheringhame was found to have been unfairly fired by the bank following a $150 million settlement between Barclays and the New York Department of Financial Services and while the bank refused to take him back they had to pay him nearly 1 million pounds in lost earnings.
It’s not easy to convince judges to order re-employment. They have to consider whether the claimant’s request to return is genuine and whether it’s practicable for the employer to welcome them back. Last year, a former Citigroup Inc. trader won his unfair dismissal case but couldn’t convince the judge to order the bank to re-hire him because of the breakdown in trust and confidence on both sides of the working relationship.
In Jones’s case, the judge was worried others would be ousted if he returned to his old job, so instead ordered his re-employment into a similar role in Hong Kong, which offered a comparable compensation package.
This “comes with a risk for the employer however, employing anyone in a trading role carries risk,” Judge Stephen Knight said during the Dec. 9 ruling. JPMorgan can manage the risk with training and “can and will make it work.”
Nick Wilcox, Jones’s lawyer at Brahams Dutt Badrick French, declined to comment for the article, as did a spokesman for JPMorgan. The bank is appealing the ruling on unfair dismissal.
Re-employment allows further vindication and justice in certain close knit professions which are known to operate black-listing based on perception, according to Khan. Judge Knight echoed those concerns in his ruling.
If he were not to have made the order, Jones “would never work in a regulated role in a financial services sector again,” he said. “It amounts to blacklisting him. Re-engagement is the only way in which the unfair dismissal in this case is made right.”
Seeking re-employment may also be increasingly used as a tactic when negotiating settlements. More than 90% of all cases settle before they reach the tribunal in the U.K., according to the Gannons law firm.
“It’s a useful tactic and is certainly coming up more and more because with a lot of the salaries these people are on, the legal constraints don’t come close to what they’re looking for by way of a settlement,” said Ruby Dinsmore, an employment lawyer at Penningtons Manches Cooper.
Settlements are often the norm because of the sheer legal resource banks and big corporates have access to, to fight litigation. Often claimants are left to represent themselves.
In the rare cases, like Jones and Fotheringhame, where a claim is successful, individuals have the upper-hand in asking for re-employment, allowing them to “cash-in as much as possible on any award they would get,” she said.
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