JP Morgan Chase employee survey question on LGBT alliance ruffles legal community’s feathers

A whistleblower alerted a professor at Princeton as to the uncomfortable and possibly illegal nature of a question inquiring as to his association with the LGBT community

Whistleblowing has been used to out certain companies over the years for various labor and employment practices deemed illegal, but once in a while, a case breaches a particular line of misconduct that charts new territory. The recent case of an employee at JP Morgan Chase bank having outted the bank’s allegedly biased employee survey has raised some eyebrows as to the labor and employment practices of the company.

Breitbart News reported that the employee delivered information regarding a controversial question on an employee survey at the bank to Professor Robert George of Princeton, who published it on his law blog. Since then the issue has been a fraught one. The employee said that the question asked: “Are you … an ally of the LGBT community, but not personally identifying as LGBT?” 

While the survey is annually used to gauge employee satisfaction, the whistleblowing employee’s problem with the particular question of the survey was that he was fearful that he would lose his job or otherwise be compromised if he answered in the positive. 

Breitbart News quotes the employee on his taking issue with the survey question: “When your company is asking you if you are an ally of this community, it’s not like they are asking you if you like the Cleveland Browns. It makes you wonder what could happen. They are asking this for some reason. It will compel someone to do something. I am afraid I could lose my job or have it used to stack the deck against me.”

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Further reading: 

Labor & Employment Digest: May 2014 

Labor & Employment Digest: July 2014

JPMorgan Chase’s chief compliance officer steps down

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This is not the first of legal issues for JP Morgan Chase recently. The company got in some compliance trouble in 2013, reaching a $13 billion settlement with the Department of Justice for improprieties committed during the financial crisis. The bank published its intent to spend $2 billion on new compliance measures in 2014, and to ensure its performance in that capacity, had to hire new compliance officers after the bank’s chief compliance officer Cindy Armine stepped down to join a new company. 

In this new crisis — one that is less compliant-driven and more human resources-driven — the company will necessarily have to face new criticism of its labor and employment practices.

Contributing Author

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Juliana Kenny

Juliana Kenny is a contributor to InsideCounsel.com, covering a range of topics including patent litigation, conflict mineral laws, executive compensation, and antitrust regulation. Juliana earned B.A.s...

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