Yes, you read that correctly.
In June 2010, Switzerland-based currency trader Kai Herbert happily resigned from his current position at UBS and accepted an offer from JPMorgan Chase at its Johannesburg branch–to the tune of $3.1 million (24 million rand) base salary per year.
Or…wait a minute. $3.1 mill a year? For an “executive-director level position”? Not so fast. JPMorgan had made a “typographical error” on Mr. Herbert’s contract, accidentally magnifying the amount of his actual salary ($310,000, or 2.4 million rand) by tenfold.
Was salary not part of a face-to-face or at least phone discussion between Mr. Herbert and JPMorgan? One would think that both parties would have some idea of a ballpark figure before the offer was made in writing. Either way, one would also think that JPMorgan employees ought to be in the habit of double-checking the placement of that pesky little dot known as the “decimal point.”
How dare JPMorgan expect Mr. Herbert to work for a measly $310,000 a year? Incensed and indignant (at least as I imagine him), Mr. Herbert refused to show up for work.
He must have been a pretty big deal, because JPMorgan waited six months to rescind his offer of employment. Hypothetically speaking, if Mr. Herbert had had a change of heart in, say, November 2010, after being unemployed for five months (shockingly, he couldn’t find another employer to match JPMorgan’s initial offer), he could have showed up bright and chipper in Johannesburg and started collecting his paycheck. His first would have been roughly $59,615, were he paid each week.
No, convinced of his own inimitable self-worth, Mr. Herbert waited and waited to get another job equal to his value. He did accept an offer from Credit Suisse in 2011 (salary unknown), but they laid him off after only eight months.
Since JPMorgan wouldn’t take him back, even at the actual salary they asked him, he is suing them for $920,000–roughly the amount he would have earned had he worked there for the past 3 years.
Meanwhile, JPMorgan is conducting a thorough review of all internal communications to discover whether or not one of the secretaries assigned to typing up Mr. Herbert’s contract had a crush on him.*