By Ryan Velez
Wells Fargo has been under scrutiny with a series of scandals including several employees opening unauthorized accounts for customers in order to boost their numbers. Celebrity Net Worth reports that one of their past mistakes is coming back to haunt them financially, having to pay over $5 million to hire back a former whistleblower after they were fired.
The hiring move is being made in compliance with an order by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Federal officials say that a Los Angeles bank manager was fired after reporting potential fraud to both his superiors and a bank ethics hotline. While the bank denies this, they do acknowledge having issues with the hotline itself.
The $5.4 million that the bank manager is being paid for includes $5.4 million in back pay, damage, and legal fees. He has been unable to find a banking job since being fired, and part of this awarded money includes earnings lost during his time away from the industry. While the agency did not release names of those involved, the investigation shows that after saying he believed that two employees under him were involved in fraud, he was fired despite a record of good performance reviews.
Federal whistleblower laws keep companies from retaliating against workers for reporting legal violations internally or to government officials. A spokesman for Wells Fargo said that the bank plans to appeal the finding, saying that the worker was in the bank’s wealth management practice, not in the retail division that was at the heart of the scandal.
Part of the issue that may hurt the bank’s plan is the fact that OSHA’s findings mirror claims made by other employees, who said that they were fired or disciplined after calling the hotline to report that other employees were making unauthorized accounts. This is in reference to the revelation that workers created 2.1 million accounts without authorization from 2011 to 2015. Over 5,300 workers were fired over this practice.
After reaching a $185 million settlement with regulators, the Labor Department began to review other labor complaints against the bank. These include unpaid labor complaints from employees who said they were forced to try and meet large sales goals. It is believed that this may have contributed to workers opening unauthorized accounts.