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Wells Fargo ordered to reinstate fired whistleblower, pay $5.4 million

Wells Fargo ordered to reinstate fired whistleblower, pay $5.4 million

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered Wells Fargo Bank N.A. to compensate a former bank manager about $5.4 million and immediately reinstate the manager, who lost his job after reporting suspected fraudulent behavior to superiors and a bank ethics hotline.

The manager, who had previously received positive job performance appraisals, was abruptly dismissed from his position at a Wells Fargo branch in the Los Angeles area after he reported separate incidents of suspected bank, mail and wire fraud by two bankers under his supervision, according to an agency press release issued on Monday. He has been unable to find work in banking since his termination in 2010.

An OSHA investigation concluded that the unidentified manager’s whistleblower activity, which is protected under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, was at least a contributing factor in his termination, according to the press release. 

In addition to reinstating the employee and clearing his personnel file, Wells Fargo has been ordered to fully compensate him for lost earnings during his time out of the banking industry. Back pay, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees were calculated at about $5.4 million.
Wells Fargo must also post a notice informing all employees of their whistleblower protections under Sarbanes-Oxley — one of the 22 statutes under which OSHA is responsible for enforcing whistleblower protections. 

Wells Fargo can appeal the order before the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, but this would not stay the preliminary reinstatement order.

A company spokesman said the individual was not a branch manager, but a manager in the company's wealth management group and Los Angeles was part of the employee's territory, according to an emailed statement. 

“We take seriously the concerns of current and former team members," the spokesman said. "This decision is a preliminary order and to date there has been no hearing on the merits of this case. We disagree with the findings and will be requesting a full hearing of the matter.”



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