Many people in Los Angeles may be aware of the scandal regarding unethical sales practices surrounding the financial institution Wells Fargo, and some Wells Fargo account holders may even have been personally affected by it. Certain employees of Wells Fargo were reportedly aware of the company’s sham account scheme, but they say when they tried to notify their superiors so the issue could be addressed, they were wrongfully terminated.
Two Wells Fargo employees, a married couple who were regional presidents of a number of the financial institution’s branches in California, were fired back in March. Their termination took place just weeks following the firing of other high-ranking employees with regards to the financial institution’s sham account scheme. The married couple knew of the scheme and tried to report it, but they were quietly let go anyways. They claim they were scapegoats.
The couple has since sued Wells Fargo for wrongful termination, among other claims. Per the lawsuit, the couple claims that their superiors knew of the unlawful practices the financial institution was committing, and that some of these individuals even promoted them, but they were not fired. In fact, in the lawsuit the couple claims that one employee in particular had knowledge of and even encouraged unlawful activities, such as making sham accounts seem legitimate by transferring funds from existing customers’ accounts to the sham account. However, not only did he keep his job, but he was promoted, while whistleblowers like them were fired.
It remains to be seen how this lawsuit will play out, but the allegations of the fired couple are very troubling. Employees who report unlawful actions on the part of their employer are only trying to do the right thing. There are whistleblower laws in place to protect employees in such situations. In addition, employees may have the right to sue their employer for wrongful termination under certain circumstances. By doing so, they may be able to hold their employer responsible both for the unlawful firing and for the illegal practices their employer engaged in.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Former Wells Fargo executives say they were scapegoated for accounts scandal,” James Rufus Koren, Sept. 1, 2017