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Court of Appeals to Bank of America: When is a Vice President not a Vice President?

If you have ever wondered why so many employees at your bank carry the title of Vice President, the decision in Ramanathan v. Bank of America could shed some light. The California Court of Appeals reversed a trial court decision, which will allow Padmanabhan Ramanathan to move forward with his wrongful termination suit against Bank of America.

648752%20BofA%20Seattle.jpg The banks position was that the National Banking Act Sec. 24(Fifth) of the bank act bestows the power “[t]o elect or appoint directors, and by its board of directors to appoint a president, vice president, cashier, and other officers, define their duties, require bonds of them and fix the penalty thereof, dismiss such officers or any of them at pleasure, and appoint others to fill their places.”

The most entertaining part of the decision was found in the footnotes…… At oral argument, the Bank’s counsel argued that if the Bank chose to designate all of its employees, “including janitors, maintenance workers, everyone” as “vice presidents,” then they too would all be covered by the provisions of the NBA. The judge labeled this a “startling assertion”.

In spite of such a sound “legal” argument, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey W. Horner, writing on assignment for the Court of Appeal gave more weight to Ramanathan’s declaration that he had no employees working under his supervision, had no control over anyone else’s employment, was primarily involved in the design and development of software applications, and had nothing to do with banking operations or customer service.

If you have any questions about wrongful termination or any aspect of employment law, contact Sylvester, Oppenheim & Linde. We will be happy to answer your questions and there is never a charge for an initial consultation.