U.S. senators are investigating Wells Fargo about reports of retribution by bank managers against would-be whistleblowers. The senators are probing whether former Wells Fargo workers were fired or pushed to resign after they called the bank’s ethics line. The workers say they were resisting the widespread unethical sales practices that are at the center of the current banking scandal. Wells Fargo opened as many as 2 million accounts without customers’ consent.
Former workers from four states told NPR that’s basically what the bank did to them. Wells Fargo wrote negative comments about the workers on their U5 documents a report card used by the industry. They say this amounted to a scarlet letter that has badly damaged their careers.
NPR spoke to former Wells Fargo workers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They were all given negative U5 comments written by the bank after they were fired or resigned. They say the comments are inaccurate and hindered their job prospects and caused them financial hardship. They all said they were fired or pushed to resign after resisting the pressure to push products on customers that they didn’t want and for reporting unethical practices in their branches to managers or the company’s ethics line. And they see these damaging comments on their U5 as retribution by the bank for their refusal to go along with the unethical sales culture.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers