Feds Order Wells Fargo to Rehire Whistleblower

A U.S. federal agency ordered San Francisco-based Wells Fargo to re-hire the whistleblower who was a branch manager and fired after she reported the misconduct related to the fake account scandal that rocked the bank last year. The bank has also been ordered to pay her back wages as well as damages of more than $577,500.

On Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Labor Department made the announcement.

OSHA said through its press release that Wells Fargo had terminated their employee who turned whistleblower in September of 2011 due to concerns that the private bankers at the financial institute were opening client accounts and enrolling the clients in bank products without the client’s knowledge or consent.

It is prohibited by federal law for banks to retaliate when one of their employees reports a possible unlawful activity. The $577,500 awarded to the former employee includes her back pay, attorney’s fees and compensatory damages.

The bank is also required to clear her entire personnel file. Wells Fargo must also post notices that inform workers at the bank about the protection laws afforded to whistleblowers by the federal government.

The bank pushed back through a prepared statement on Friday that indicated it would appeal the OSHA decision. The statement said the bank disagreed with OSHA’s finding and would request a complete hearing over the matter.

OSHA says the whistleblower is able to return to her former job while the appeals process is carried out.

Wells Fargo has grappled with the huge fallout from its massive number of fake accounts and by the scandal that were brought to light in 2016.

Wells Fargo admitted to opening a minimum of 2 million accounts over a period of four years between 2011 and 2015 to boost sales figures. Employees at the bank have blamed much of the scandal on the bank’s draconian sales targets.

The company received a fine of $185 million and recently it reached a settlement of $142 million that will be paid to the victims of the scheme.

The backlash spawned several local and federal investigations and led to the firing of longtime CEO John Stumpf along with several other executives as high levels. The bank says it has since made a complete restructuring of its sales goals.

The bank seems to be returning to his position beforehand as the lender posted positive results for its quarterly earnings surpassing several estimates by analysts.