scorecardWells Fargo ordered to pay $22 million for firing an executive who spoke out about allegations of financial misconduct
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Wells Fargo ordered to pay $22 million for firing an executive who spoke out about allegations of financial misconduct

Grace Dean   

Wells Fargo ordered to pay $22 million for firing an executive who spoke out about allegations of financial misconduct
Finance2 min read
  • Wells Fargo has been ordered to pay $22 million for retaliating against an executive.
  • The senior manager was fired after reporting what they believed was financial misconduct.

Financial-services company Wells Fargo has been ordered to pay $22 million after the Department of Labor ruled that it had retaliated against an executive who alleged financial misconduct and wire fraud by firing them.

The Department of Labor said Thursday that Wells Fargo had violated whistleblower-protection laws by "improperly terminating" a senior manager in its commercial-banking segment who worked in the Chicago area.

Wells Fargo terminated the manager after they had "repeatedly" voiced concerns to area managers and the company's ethics line about what they believed to be illegal conduct, including allegations of wire fraud and being told to falsify customer information, according to the DoL.

The manager also alleged that management was engaged in price fixing and interest rate collusion through exclusive dealing, the DoL said.

The manager said they thought the behavior was illegal based on what they had learned in training provided by the company.

The manager was terminated in 2019, the DoL said. At first Wells Fargo didn't say why they were terminated, but later said that it was part of a restructuring process, the DoL said.

"Investigators found the removal was not consistent with Wells Fargo's treatment of other managers removed under the initiative," the DoL said.

"The evidence demonstrates Wells Fargo took retaliatory action against this senior manager for repeatedly expressing concerns about financial management they believed violated federal laws," Doug Parker, assistant secretary of labor at the DoL's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said in a statement.

Wells Fargo did not immediately respond to Insider's request for conduct, made outside of normal working hours.

"We do not engage in or tolerate retaliation of any kind against anyone for providing information in good faith ... about suspected unethical or illegal conduct, including fraud," Wells Fargo says in its code of conduct.

Wells Fargo operates an EthicsLine that staff can access via phone call or online to report possible fraudulent activities. The call center is staffed by third-party interview specialists, who write a summary report based on the call which they pass onto Wells Fargo. In some circumstances, the testimony is allowed to stay anonymous.

"Any information provided to the EthicsLine will be treated as confidential to the extent allowed by applicable law," Wells Fargo adds.

Some former Wells Fargo employees previously told CNN that they believed they were retaliated against for using the EthicsLine.

The DoL said that Wells Fargo's payment to the former manager, which comes to more than $22 million, includes back wages, interest, lost bonuses and benefits, front pay, and compensatory damages.

Both Well Fargo and the manager have 30 days to file objections and request a hearing before an administrative law judge.




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