Wells Fargo has been ordered to pay $22 million to an executive based in the Chicago area who was fired after alleging financial misconduct, Financial Advisor reports.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the order after finding that Wells Fargo had violated the whistleblower protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by improperly terminating the employee in 2019.
The executive, a senior manager in the commercial banking segment, had repeatedly voiced concerns over conduct believed to have violated financial laws, including wire fraud.
Wells Fargo was ordered to pay the employee more than $22 million which includes back wages, interest, lost bonuses and benefits, front pay and compensatory damages.
“The evidence demonstrates Wells Fargo took retaliatory action against this senior manager for repeatedly expressing concerns about financial management they believed violated federal laws,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “The Sarbanes-Oxley Act protects employees from retaliation in these very circumstances and the Department of Labor will not tolerate employers who violate the law and illegally terminate workers that exercise heir rights under the law.
Responding to OSHA’s enforcement action, Wells Fargo issued a statement denying the allegations and saying the findings were not based on an evidentiary hearing. The company said it plans to appeal the decision to an administrative law judge. The statement went on to say, “Wells Fargo has zero tolerance for acts of retaliation, and employees are encouraged to report concerns which will be promptly and thoroughly investigated.”
The Department of Labor said the executive had expressed concerns about being directed to falsify customer information, and had also claimed management was engaged in price fixing and interest rate collusion through exclusive dealing. Wells Fargo said the employee was terminated as part of a restructuring process, but investigators found the discharge was inconsistent with how the company treated other managers removed under the initiative.
Wells Fargo and the employee have 30 days from receipt of the findings to file objections and request an administrative law hearing.
Lewitas Hyman routinely represents financial advisors and other registered representatives who were wrongfully terminated by their firm. Our attorneys take a thoughtful approach to clients’ cases by first trying to work with the terminating firm concerning the representative’s Form U5 disclosure. When necessary, our attorneys are prepared to file wrongful termination and defamation claims. We are prepared to assist when the circumstances surrounding your termination are wrongful. Contact Lewitas Hyman at (888) 655-6002 or through our online contact form for a free consultation.