In a Chicago-based case, the U.S. Labor Department has ordered Wells Fargo to pay $22 million for violating whistleblower protection provisions of federal law.
The money, including back pay and compensatory damages, must be paid to a former senior manager in the Chicago area for the commercial banking unit. The department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the bank fired the executive in 2019 for complaining about possible illegalities, such as wire fraud. The agency said the former manager also was concerned about being directed to falsify customer information and about alleged price fixing and interest-rate collusion.
As a whistleblower under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for curbing corporate fraud, the ex-manager was not identified.
Wells Fargo said in a statement that it disagrees with the findings “which were not based on an evidentiary hearing. We intend to appeal to an Administrative Law Judge. Wells Fargo has zero tolerance for acts of retaliation, and employees are encouraged to report concerns which will be promptly and thoroughly investigated.”
Either side has 30 days to appeal. OSHA’s Chicago regional office investigated after getting a complaint for the former employee.
The agency said Wells Fargo argued the individual was fired in a restructuring but an investigation showed the manager was treated differently from others let go in that process.