A congresswoman left the billionaire CEO of US bank JP Morgan Chase red-faced when she confronted him on the consequences of the bank’s low wages for a single-mother who works for the company.
CEO Jamie Dimon faced a grilling from Democrat Katie Porter at a financial services committee hearing in Washington.
The woman works for the company as a bank teller on a starting salary of $2,245 a month which left her €567 short of paying her living expenses at the end of each month.
Ms Porter said the woman rented a one-bedroom apartment with her daughter, they slept in the same room, she had to pay for childcare, car and fuel, plus food and utilities.
"She has after-school childcare because the bank is open during normal business hours – that’s $450 a month.
"That takes her down to negative $567 per month," Ms Porter said.
"How should she manage this budget shortfall while she's working full-time at your bank?" Ms Porter asked Mr Dimon, who earns $31 million a year salary.
The exchanges that followed got increasingly embarrassing for Mr Dimon.
"I don't know that all your numbers are accurate, that number is generally a starter job," he said.
Ms Porter replied: "She is a starting employee, she has a six-year-old child, this is her first job."
"You can get those jobs out of high school, and she may have my job one day," Mr Dimon said. "I'm wholly sympathetic."
Ms Porter continued to press Mr Dimon on the woman’s plight. "She's short $567, what would you suggest she do?"
"I don't know, I'd have to think about that," he said.
The California representative asked Mr Dimon: "Would you recommend that she take out a JPMorgan Chase credit card and run a deficit?"
Mr Dimon, clearly on the back foot, again said "I don't know, I'd have to think about it."
"Would you recommend that she overdraft at your bank and be charged overdraft fees?" Ms Porter asked.
Going for the hat-trick of "don’t knows", Mr Dimon said: "I don't know, I'd have to think about it," adding that he would "love to call up and have a conversation about her financial affairs and see if we could be helpful".
Ms Porter interjected to "see if you could find a way for her to live on less than the minimum that I've described?"
"Just [to] be helpful," he replied.
"Well, I appreciate your desire to be helpful, but what I'd like you to do is provide a way for families to make ends meet," Ms Porter said.