U.S. Department of Labor Now Investigating Wells Fargo
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is investigating Wells Fargo for potential unpaid overtime violations and employee whistleblower retaliation. This investigation comes after it was revealed that Wells Fargo employees created approximately two million fake accounts without customer knowledge.
The company fired approximately 5,300 workers due to the scandal, but many employees claim they were terminated because they voiced concerns about questionable sales tactics. One employee told CNN that he called the Wells Fargo ethics line and sent an email to the HR department because he refused to open fake bank accounts. He said he was fired just eight days later, and was told he was being terminated due to “tardiness.”
U.S. Labor Department Secretary Thomas Perez said they will conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of all complaints the organization has received against Wells Fargo in recent years. In addition to the retaliation claims, the DOL said they are trying to determine whether Wells Fargo violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by not paying overtime to employees who worked extra hours to reach sales quotas. The FLSA requires employers to pay overtime whenever employees work more than 40 hours a week.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed, in part, to protect corporate whistleblowers from retaliation. Anyone who has been the victim of such retaliation could be entitled to monetary compensation under Sarbanes-Oxley.
Federal regulators fined Wells Fargo $185 million after investigations revealed that employees had opened millions of fake accounts under customer names. Employees were allegedly compensated for getting existing customers to sign up for new deposit accounts, credit cards, debit cards and online banking. To take advantage of these perks and meet sales targets, the CFPB said Wells Fargo employees illegally enrolled customers in additional services without the customer’s knowledge or consent.