Wells Fargo is allegedly facing a massive scandal involving the creation of millions of fake banking accounts by employees who were under orders to meet strict sales quotas. Not only is the company undergoing intense scrutiny regarding that conduct, it is also being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for possible retaliation against whistleblowers who complained about that practice. The DOL is also investigating Wells Fargo for potential wage and hour violations related to employees working overtime hours for which they were not paid overtime compensation. While the DOL can take some actions for retaliation and failure to pay all overtime wages owed, individuals can also pursue their own case without the government’s involvement.
Baron & Budd may be able to help if you are a current or former Wells Fargo employee who was either not paid overtime pay for all overtime hours worked or wrongfully terminated, demoted or otherwise retaliated against because you complained about a fake account sales scheme. Please call 866-637-0155 or complete our contact form to learn more.
A “Top-to-Bottom” Investigation
The DOL announced on Sept. 26, 2016 that it is conducting a “top-to-bottom” review of all complaints and alleged violations it has received regarding Wells Fargo in recent years. The department issued the statement after Sen. Elizabeth Warren requested a probe into Wells Fargo’s employment practices.
The company was hit with a $190 million fine earlier in September after reports surfaced that employees had established about 2 million unauthorized credit card and bank accounts in customers’ names.
Possible Wage and Overtime Violations
The DOL is working to determine whether or not Wells Fargo committed wage and overtime violations regarding employees who worked late in order to meet their sales quotas.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must compensate their employees at a rate of one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime work. Overtime is considered any hours worked in excess of 40 per workweek. Even if the hours worked were not recorded, if the employer knew or should have known you worked those overtime hours without overtime pay, the employer may be required to pay you twice the amount of overtime not paid for up to a three year look back period.
Also, not only hourly employees are due overtime pay – in many instances, commissioned and even salaried workers qualify for overtime pay as well.
When workers file FLSA lawsuits against their employers and are successful, they typically receive twice the amount of overtime wages they are due. For example, if you are owed $20,000 in back overtime and win your lawsuit, you could win as much as $40,000 when penalties are added. In addition, your employer will have to pay court costs and legal fees if your claim is successful.
Employee Whistleblower Retaliation Allegations
The DOL is also investigating allegations that Wells Fargo retaliated against employees who called the company’s ethics line to complain about alleged improper sales tactics. Wells Fargo announced it fired more than 5,000 employees due to the tactics, but many workers say they were let go after voicing their concerns.
For example, one employee told CNN that he was fired from his job as a Wells Fargo banker after he refused to open fake accounts. He said he not only called the ethics line, he also sent the human resources department an e-mail. Eight days later, he said, he was fired. The reason he was given was “tardiness.”
A law named the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or SOX, was passed to help prevent corporate financial misconduct by, amongst other things, protecting whistleblowers from retaliation for complaining of misconduct. Employees and former employees who were retaliated against for complaining of financial misconduct, such as the opening of fraudulent bank accounts, may be entitled to significant monetary compensation under SOX.
How Baron & Budd Can Help
Baron & Budd has a vast amount of experience representing employees in both FLSA and whistleblower cases. We are passionate about fighting for the rights of workers, and our firm has the expertise and resources necessary to hold employers accountable.
If you choose to file a lawsuit in an effort to obtain the back overtime you believe you are entitled to, we will provide the skilled representation you need. As long as you are acting in good faith and you truly believe you are owed back wages, you cannot be harassed, demoted or fired from your job – whether you win or lose.
We also have a well-established background in litigating whistleblower lawsuits on behalf of employees who were wrongfully terminated or otherwise retaliated against for having the courage to stand up against corrupt practices. Our firm has a nearly 40-year track record of “Protecting What’s Right,” and we will be proud to stand with you in your fight for what you believe.