Washington, D.C. September 28, 2016. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez vowed a “Top-to-Bottom” review of whistleblower complaints filed by Wells Fargo employees over the last six years. Sec. Perez made this promise in response to a request last week by several Senators, including Senator Elisabeth Warren, for the Department of Labor (DOL) to investigate whether Wells Fargo violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The request for an investigation came as a result of the recent revelation that Wells Fargo employees had created millions of phony accounts, which earned the bank unwarranted fees, to boost their sales figures and make more money. The Senators’ expressed concerns that Wells Fargo employees worked in a “workplace characterized by stringent sales quotas and aggressive incentives “causing them to go to great lengths to meet such quotas.” The Senators’ fear that the employees were faced with “threats of termination; mandated hours of unpaid overtime; harassment; and other forms of retaliation,” if they failed to meet their quotas. There have also been allegations that the bank retaliated against employees who called the company’s ethics line.
The DOL’s review will include both open and closed whistleblower complaints against Wells Fargo. “I have directed enforcement agencies within the department to conduct a top-to-bottom review of cases, complaints or violations concerning Wells Fargo over the last several years,” Sec. Perez said in his reply the Senators. Sec. Perez noted that in addition to reviewing whistleblower complaints, the DOL has also created a webpage (www.dol.gov/wells fargo) “to ensure that all current and former Wells Fargo employees are aware” of their rights.
In commending Sec. Perez’s announcement to review these cases, Sen. Warren stated, “I’m glad DOL is initiating a prompt and thorough agency-wide review of all cases, complaints, and violations implicating Wells Fargo over the past several years to determine whether the agency should bring additional claims against the bank. Every other federal agency with jurisdiction in this matter should follow DOL’s lead and promptly determine whether Wells Fargo and its senior executives should be prosecuted or otherwise sanctioned.”