Image from San Francisco Business Times.
In recent weeks, news reports have revealed that Wells Fargo is a pillar of American greed. It was reported that two million fraudulent checking, savings, credit and debit card accounts were opened over a period of four years. In addition to consumer fraud, Wells Fargo is also facing class action lawsuits alleging unpaid overtime and off the clock work as a direct result of the lofty sales goals that were impossible for employees to meet on a daily basis. This led to the regular practice of opening fraudulent accounts.
The practice became routine at the local branches of the bank around the country. Management was only concerned about their employees meeting their sales goals. If employees did not meet their daily quotas, managers told them to stay and work overtime to reach their sales targets, oftentimes without being paid. This promoted the practice of opening fake accounts, because it would allow the employees to leave on time instead of working overtime without pay.
The Fiscal Times reported that “workers were told to reach goals or else you’re not going home.” As numerous former employees have pointed out, these overtime hours were regularly unpaid, since employees that tried to enter their overtime hours into the online time tracking software had those hours taken away by their managers.
The issues of unpaid overtime and high sales goals created a consistent cycle of fraudulent activity that was supported by management. For workers who were unable to meet sales targets during business hours, there were three options: (1) stay late and not get paid, (2) open accounts without customer knowledge or approval, or (3) face termination. Many of these employees, who chose not to illegally open fraudulent accounts and were later terminated, are now filing lawsuits for wrongful termination in addition to unpaid wages.
The statements of many employees indicate that management was responsible for ordering employees to open fraudulent accounts. However, the employees and not management are now facing the consequences for pursuing this illegal scheme. Currently, at least 5,300 branch employees have been fired over this scandal.
Under Federal and State Law, current and former Wells Fargo employees are able to seek back wages for two to three years, depending on circumstances. Additionally, former employees who were fired because they complied with Wells Fargo management, also have a minimum of three years to file their claims.