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A federal appeals court has reinstated wrongful termination charges filed by a fired Wells Fargo Bank N.A. loan officer in a divided opinion.
Paola Garcia filed suit against San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank charging discrimination, retaliation and violation of the California Family Rights Act in connection with her termination from her position as loan officer for Wells Fargo while she was on leave following the birth of her child, according to court papers in Paola Garcia v. Wells Fargo Bank.
The U.S. District Court in Pasadena, California, granted Wells Fargo summary judgment dismissing the case. An appeals court panel affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of Ms. Garcia’s failure to promote claims, but reinstated her wrongful termination claims in its 2-1 ruling.
Wells Fargo’s proffered reason for terminating Ms. Garcia’s position was based on a reduction in force, said the ruling, with its evidence primarily consisting of a “business case” dated three days before her October 2014 termination.
Ms. Garcia submitted evidence “explaining there was no overall downturn in business, but rather an internal reassignment in loan responsibilities. Garcia also points out, accurately, that Wells Fargo’s ‘Business Case’ offers little to substantiate its bare assertion of a market slowdown.”
“In sum, Garcia has presented sufficient, specific evidence that demonstrates a triable issue of fact as to whether Wells Fargo’s proffered explanation was not its actual motive for terminating Garcia,” said the ruling. “The evidence on both sides is limited, but which side’s limited evidence is more persuasive is a question for the trier of fact,” said the majority opinion, in remanding the case for further proceedings.
The dissenting opinion states, “Garcia simply has no evidence that Wells Fargo’s proffered explanation for termination is pretextual.”
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suit against Wells Fargo Bank N.A., charging it with creating a sexually hostile work environment at one of its branches in a situation where female employees were allegedly subject to same-sex harassment.