Diana Duenas-Brown worked at a California Wells Fargo location for 14 years. During 11 of those years she worked as the Branch Manager. On December 9, 2016, Duenas-Brown filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination and retaliation. Allegedly, Duenas-Brown reported wrongdoing at Wells Fargo and as a result, she was fired in obvious retaliation for her reporting of illegal activity. In addition, her Wells Fargo supervisors harassed her.
According to the record, Duenas-Brown was fired on March 16, 2015 following her report of illegal sales practices by co-workers (i.e. opening customer accounts and issuing credit cards without prior customer consent). After an investigation uncovered widespread wrongdoing on the part of its sales representatives, Wells Fargo faced sanctions.
Duenas-Brown states that after reporting the illegal activity to her supervisors at Wells Fargo, she was harassed. She received unwarranted discipline, endured hostile interrogations, and was given poor performance reviews. She was also demoted, and transferred and had her wages reduced. This all occurred in the ten months preceding her termination from Well Fargo.
According to the lawsuit, Duenas-Brown suffered financial loss, the loss of her employee benefits and the loss of expected advancement opportunities as a direct result of the actions of Wells Fargo in response to her report of illegal activity in practice at the bank.
In response to the lawsuit and the allegations included, Wells Fargo stated that they have a zero tolerance for retaliation against employees policy – including retaliation against employees who submit a report of wrongdoing. The allegations included in the Wells Fargo lawsuit could easily be viewed as harassment on the job, but the lawsuit officially claims wrongful termination and retaliation.
Wells Fargo is also facing lawsuits from customers who allege that the bank opened up face accounts/credit cards in their name without their consent. Some of the customers claim that the illegal action had a negative effect on their credit reports/scores. Wells Fargo has already paid $185 million in fines as a result of the illegal activity.
According to California employment law, employers must undergo training intended to prevent abusive conduct against employees, such as verbal abuse, physical abuse, derogatory remarks, etc. Abusive conduct can be defined as any act that occurs repeatedly. The law does not actually ban abusive conduct, but it does require training intended to prevent it from occurring. Sexual harassment against employees and discrimination against specified protected groups are also prohibited under employment law.
If you have questions or concerns regarding discrimination or harassment in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.