Wells Fargo to Pay $577,000 in Whistleblower Claim

Former Branch Manager Gets Job Back, Along with Back Pay

The United States Department of Labor has issued an order requiring banking giant Wells Fargo to rehire a former branch manager and to pay her $577,500 in back wages, saying the company wrongfully terminated the woman in retaliation for reporting misconduct by the bank and its corporate officers. The woman, who worked in a branch in Pomona, California, had reported her concerns that private bankers at Wells Fargo were opening new accounts for customers and setting them up with new bank products without the customers’ knowledge or consent, and without providing statutorily mandated disclosures. Representatives of the bank subsequently admitted that the practice was part of a sales initiative.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there was sufficient evidence to indicate that the Pomona woman was fired primarily or solely because of her actions as a whistleblower. Federal law makes it illegal for banks to take any type of retaliatory action when employees report wrongful or suspicious conduct.

OSHA ordered Wells Fargo to give the woman her job back and said the company must clear her personnel file of any disparaging or negative reports or comments tied to the fake account scandal. The bank must pay her back wages, as well as compensatory damages and attorney fees, and must post notices advising bank employees of their rights under whistleblower protection laws.

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