The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has determined a Wells Fargo employee was terminated in a retaliatory manner after an OSHA investigation.
The financial institution was ordered by the department to pay $577,500 in back wages, damages and other fees to a former branch manager in Pomona, Cali. was fired after she reported unethical conduct including bank, wire and mail fraud.
“No banking industry employee should fear retaliation for raising concerns about fraud and practices that violate consumer financial protections,” said Barbara Goto, OSHA regional administrator in San Francisco in a statement. “The U.S. Department of Labor will fully and fairly enforce the whistleblower protection laws under its jurisdiction.”
In September 2011, the worker raised concerns after she suspected private bankers were opening customer accounts and enrolling customers in bank products without their knowledge, consent or appropriate disclosures. The branch manager was fired for reporting violations of consumer financial consumer laws, according to OSHA.
Investigators determined the worker’s reports to Wells Fargo Bank were determined to be protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 and part of the reason for her termination.
As a result, Wells Fargo must reinstate the employee, clear her personnel file and compensate her $577,500 for back pay, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees. The company also must post information about employee whistleblower rights under the Sarbanes-Oxley and Consumer Financial Protection acts.
The order may be appealed to the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, but an appeal does not stay the preliminary reinstatement order, according to the agency.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley and Consumer Financial Protection acts and 20 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of occupational safety and health, airline, commercial motor vehicle, consumer product, environmental, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad and maritime laws.