It has been discovered that since 2009, Wells Fargo employees have conducted “widespread illegal practices” by opening fraudulent accounts in customers’ names. They also added products and services that the customers did not request. These actions gained Wells Fargo millions at the expense of their customers. However, their financial gain was short-lived.
An unnamed manager blew the whistle on their fraudulent practices. The manager, whose name is being withheld at this time, noted suspicious activity being conducted on accounts. He reported it, and was terminated shortly thereafter. The result is a class action suit against Wells Fargo that may cost them an unprecedented $5.4 million, the “largest whistleblower award” ever to be handed down according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, (OSHA).
The bank has reportedly been ordered to pay the hefty sum to the fired manager, as well as to the customers whose accounts were affected. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the award is the largest whistleblower award to ever be handed down. As reported by OSHA, the manager has been unable to get work in the banking industry since his termination back in 2010.
An employee acting lawfully within the course and scope of his duties should not have to face losing his job for reporting dishonest behavior. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act offers protection for whistleblowers in the workplace. Under the Act, no company has a right to, “discharge, demote, suspend, threaten, harass, or in any other manner discriminate,” against an employee for coming forward with accurate information.
Wells Fargo is not happy about the order, and they intend to appeal. “We disagree with the findings and will be requesting a full hearing of the matter,” stated Vince Scanlon, the spokesperson for Wells Fargo. Perhaps the blame for this fraudulent behavior rests with bank executives who burden their employees with sales quotas that are nearly impossible to meet.
Former Wells Fargo employee, Julie Miller, told the Charlotte Observer about the unfair practices the branch engaged in by increasing the burden of meeting quotas without properly rewarding employees struggling to meet them. She stated, “It became a living nightmare. They almost doubled our goals and decreased our incentive pay. It drove me to drink.” She stated it began to negatively affect her health as she struggled to meet daily requirements.
They were unrealistic requirements such as selling up to 42 products per day, including lines of credit or mortgages, and opening seven checking accounts per day. It is no wonder she longer works with Wells Fargo. The bank was fined by the government for a fee of $185 million in September of 2016 when an investigation revealed that a reported two million fraudulent accounts were created by bank employees. Wells Fargo agreed to pay $110 million.
Let’s hope Wells Fargo is all alone in these unlawful business practices and that more banks are not soon to be discovered. Or else, people may once again resort to the practice of not trusting these institutions with their money, just like in the old days.
Do you trust banks with your money? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter @lcarterwriter.