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Clinic Students Argue Case in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Adam Bluestein and Sydney Melillo, '19

June 04, 2019

‘19 graduates Adam Bluestein and Sydney Melillo gave oral arguments in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on June 4 on behalf of a whistleblower who was fired by Citigroup.

The pair began working on the case as students in the Federal Litigation and Appeals Clinic, which is co-directed by Professors Richard Frankel and Katelyn Hufe.

The clinic is representing Abdul Jaludi, who claims he was fired from his job as Citigroup’s head of Enterprise Systems Management for North America after raising concerns that the company was not reporting certain security lapses to the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, as required.

After being fired in 2013, Jaludi filed a lawsuit alleging unlawful termination in violation of the Sarbanes Oxley Act, which protects whistleblowers at publicly traded companies, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The U.S. District Court sent both claims to arbitration, citing Citibank’s employment policy that requires arbitration of disputes and Jaludi’s signature agreeing to those terms, a decision that Jaludi appealed. The Third Circuit appointed the clinic as counsel.

In briefs submitted to the court, the recent grads argued that under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 and according to Citigroup’s own employment policies implemented after its enactment, Jaludi is not required to resolve his dispute through mandatory arbitration.

Though lawyers for Citigroup argued in their briefs that arbitration is required to resolve employment disputes, Bluestein and Melillo note in their filing that the company handbook clearly acknowledges that its provisions do not supercede any law.