September 22, 2016

Senators Ask Labor Department to Investigate Wells Fargo's Potential Violations of Fair Labor Standards Act

Text of the letter available here (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) today sent a letter to Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Tom Perez and Wage and Hour Division Administrator David Weil requesting that DOL investigate whether Wells Fargo violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) with respect to its account executives, bank tellers, branch managers, and customer service representatives. The senators' letter comes in the wake of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) recent $185 million settlement with Wells Fargo, and the company's related decision to fire over 5,000 employees for creating more than 2 million checking and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by customers.

The senators explain in their letter that in addition to revealing this consumer fraud, the CFPB's investigation "uncovered a workplace characterized by stringent sales quotas and aggressive incentives imposed on its employees, and staggering neglect by management of the obvious consequences to consumers of those quotas and incentives." The letter details the lengths employees went in order to meet the bank's aggressive sales quotas, as they were faced with "threats of termination; mandated hours of unpaid overtime; harassment; and other forms of retaliation." The senators identified a series of employee complaints about possible violations of wage and hour protections dating back as far as 1999.

Noting the multiple grounds on which it appears Wells Fargo may have violated the FLSA, the senators asked Secretary Tom Perez and Administrator David Weil to open an investigation, including" a comprehensive inquiry into whether Wells Fargo aggressively skirted overtime laws - failing to pay overtime to bank tellers and associates who stayed late or came in on weekends to meet their sales quotas, or misclassifying salaried bank associates as overtime-exempt to avoid paying the overtime guaranteed to them by the FLSA."

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.