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DOL to Wells Fargo: Pay $575K and Reinstate Whistleblower

July 21, 2017

by Howard Haykin


For a second time in 3 months, the Department of Labor has ordered Wells Fargo to compensate and rehire a whistleblower who had been fired after raising concerns over the opening of customer accounts without their knowledge.


On Friday afternoon, the DOL ordered Wells Fargo to pay $575,000 to, and rehire, the unnamed whistleblower who had been fired in 2011. In April, Wells Fargo was ordered by the DOL to pay $5.4 million to a former manager who said he was fired in 2010 after reporting to supervisors and to a bank ethics hotline what he suspected was fraudulent behavior. In April, the bank indicated that it planned to appeal the DOL decision. 


While some might view these two judgments as forming a pattern of unfair terminations, an investigative report by the bank's board of directors stated otherwise. The report, released 4/10/17, said that "based on a limited review completed to date," outside law firm Shearman & Sterling had "not identified a pattern of retaliation" against employees in Wells Fargo's branch banking unit who complained about sales pressure or practices.


Nevertheless, it would not be a surprise for several more cases involving unfair terminations to arise.