JPMorgan Chase will have to face a lawsuit that accuses it of the retaliatory firing of a whistleblower, according to a Reuters report.
A federal appeals court revived the lawsuit in a ruling today, according to Reuters. The lawsuit alleges that JPMorgan fired vice president and wealth manager Jennifer Sharkey after she warned that an Israeli client might be committing fraud.
The 2nd US Court of Appeals found that Sharkey had a “reasonable belief” that the unnamed client was committing fraud and money laundering, according to Reuters. Sharkey claimed that she was fired in August of 2009, only a week after warning the bank that it should dump the client, who generated around $600,000 in annual billings, Reuters reported.
Sharkey warned the bank of “red flags” – and was fired – just a few months after JPMorgan client Bernie Madoff’s giant Ponzi scheme was exposed.
However, a US district court judge dismissed Sharkey’s lawsuit last October, Reuters reported. Judge Robert Sweet said JPMorgan could have fired the whistleblower for poor performance or for having allegedly lied about communications involving another client. Sharkey, however, denied having lied.
The appeals court disagreed with Sweet’s assessment, ruling that the “close temporal proximity” between Sharkey’s warning to the bank and her termination justified reviving the case.
A JPMorgan spokesperson said the bank believes the lawsuit is without merit, Reuters reported.
In 2014, the bank agreed to pay $2.6 billion to settle litigation over Madoff’s scheme, and – in a deferred prosecution agreement with the federal government – acknowledged responsibility for failing to stop him, Reuters reported.