Situs Slot Gacor

Federal prosecutors open investigation into Wells Fargo’s hiring practices

New York federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into whether Wells Fargo violated federal laws by conducting fake interviews of minority and female job candidates, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation.

The investigation is being conducted by members of a newly established civil rights unit in the criminal division of Manhattan’s US law firm, the people said. They asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak in public.

The investigation, which is in its early stages, was spurred on by a May 19 report in The New York Times that centered on a whistleblower, Joe Bruno. Bruno, a former employee of Wells Fargo, and others said that bank executives interviewed job seekers whom the bank considered “diverse”[ads1]; – a collective term for racial minorities, women and members of other disadvantaged groups – for roles already promised to other people.

These fake interviews were the result of the bank’s quest to increase diversity – a noble goal that was twisted in practice because, some employees said, it was more about registering the bank’s efforts to hire more minorities than actually hiring them.

The practice was linked to Wells Fargo’s “diverse board” policy, which stated that at least half of the candidates interviewed for jobs that paid $ 100,000 or more had to be “diverse.” The rule came into effect in mid-2020. However, the practice of conducting fake interviews existed long before then, because Wells Fargo had a similar unwritten policy.

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo declined to comment.

It is not clear what, if any, charges may follow from the investigation. But it shows a new willingness on the part of the federal government to prosecute civil rights violations at a time when hate crime is on the rise – especially as criminal law is rarely used to treat workers or customers of companies.

The Civil Rights Unit that handles the Wells Fargo inquiry was established in November by Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Under federal law, for example, it is a crime to interfere with “an applicant for private employment” in a manner motivated by the applicant’s “race, color, religion, or national origin.”

Federal authorities typically cite civilian anti-discrimination laws when filing lawsuits against employment discrimination companies. Customers who are abused because of race are also most dependent on state anti-discrimination laws to get justice.

In the creation of the Civil Rights Unit, Mr. Williams said that federal authorities had to reconsider how the judicial system dealt with issues of discrimination. Prosecuting criminal cases, he said, would make an effort to bring justice to victims of discrimination “more effectively.”

At Wells Fargo, one of the country’s largest banks, with almost 250,000 employees, fake interviews took place across several business areas, including mortgage services, mortgages and private banking. The Times report last month focused on the bank’s asset management activities.

Since then, another 10 current and former employees have shared stories about how they were subjected to fake interviews, or conducted them, or seen papers documenting the practice. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation from Wells Fargo or their current employers.

In an interview on Monday, Bei Ling, Wells Fargo’s head of human resources, said she did not believe that the fake interview practice was “a systematic problem”. Employees had not complained about it, she said.

“During the last eight months, I can tell you that I have never heard anything like this from the recruiting community,” said Ms. Ling. “I’ve never even heard the words ‘fake interview.’

She added that there was no way for the bank to understand the extent of the problem unless employees said so. “We can not act on things we do not know,” she said.

In some cases, there were written documents about the practice of conducting fake interviews. In late 2020, just days after Wells Fargo offered a job to a person considered “diverse” by bank standards, a human employee asked the person to apply for another job at the bank, according to an email reviewed by The Times.

The first offer was still on the table, Wells Fargo employees explained, but the bank also wanted to show that it had “qualified candidates” for both roles. “Only bookkeeping for us,” the employee wrote in the email.

Asked about HR staff’s message, Ling said, “We are considering communications.”

On Monday, Wells Fargo’s CEO, Charles W. Scharf, announced that the bank will temporarily suspend its “miscellaneous slate” rule to study implementation and make changes to prevent more fake interviews from being conducted.

The bank had already experimented with ways to streamline the hiring process. In February, Wells Fargo launched a pilot program that eliminated job advertisements and the requirement for “multiple boards” for interviews in cases where internal candidates were identified. The aim was to make it easier for employees to transfer to new roles in the bank. Until then, every job had to be outsourced and “diverse” candidates interviewed in accordance with the guidelines, unless managers specifically applied for an exemption that required approval from high-level managers.

Ling said the pilot program had nothing to do with problems arising from the “diverse slate” rule.

Wells Fargo has worked through an organization-wide clean-up of business practices over the past five years. As of 2016, it was publicly revealed that the bank had opened fake accounts in the customers’ names without their knowledge, charging some of them fake mortgage fees and forcing others to buy unnecessary car insurance. The scandals have cost the bank more than $ 4.5 billion in fines.

In early 2018, the Federal Reserve introduced a capital cap on Wells Fargo, limiting it from growing until regulators were satisfied that risk management practices and customer care had stabilized. The bank’s management has since changed, and Scharf took over in the autumn of 2019. Regulators have still not given Wells Fargo quite clear.

Its sufferings have continued.

A group of black homeowners recently sued the bank for stopping refinancing their mortgages. The Securities and Exchange Commission fined Wells Fargo $ 7 million for failing to properly comply with money laundering laws. And Rohit Chopra, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, put Wells Fargo at the top of a list of “repeat offenders” whom he suggested should be deprived of their operating licenses because they violated too many financial regulations.

Matthew Goldstein contributed with reporting.

Source link

Back to top button