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Michael Hiltzik: Chase claims it's devoted to diversity. So why didn't it give California the data required by law?

Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

The giant bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. is devoted to "diversity, equity and inclusion" in its workplace policies. We know this because it says so, right there on its website.

Unfortunately, for the most part, we have to take the company's word for it.

That's because over the last eight months, JPMorgan Chase seemed to ignore a state law requiring it to provide California officials with the data they need to make their own determination of how well the bank has performed in stamping out pay discrimination among its workers.

The frustration felt by California officials may be familiar to consumers with the experience of being flatly ignored by a big company when they try to file a complaint, or even merely obtain routine information.

Starting on Oct. 25, state officials warned the company five times, at least twice by certified mail, that it was in violation of a 2020 state law requiring it to file a pay data report.

The required reports, which were to be submitted for the first time by last March 31 for calendar year 2020, must include the number of a business's employees by race, ethnicity and gender performing certain jobs and their rate of pay during the previous year.

 

Chase never responded to any of the notices, according to the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which collects the data. Finally, on June 14, with the report more than a year late, the agency sued JPMorgan Chase in Alameda County State Court, seeking an order for the bank to submit the data promptly (and pay the state's expenses in bringing the action).

The bank says it's now working to come into compliance. "Several months ago, we recognized that the deadline to comply with the regulation had passed, and promptly began working to complete the filing requirement," a spokesman told me by email.

He further asserted, "We publicly make workforce and compensation disclosures nationally and globally, well beyond what's required of us." Indeed, the bank posts diversity statistics on its website, though not in the detail required by California law.

That may be so, but California's requirements are stricter and more consistent than those the bank and other employers must make to the federal government.

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