After decades, Americans have started to let their guards down when it comes to banks. More than likely you have a checking or savings account at your bank’s local branch — but not all people feel that banks are trustworthy.
And, they may be onto something. Over the years, at least one bank attempted to cover up internal scandals by firing the employees who reported them. Is your bank an exception to the rule?
Bank employee reports fraud and loses job
Even prominent businesses have been exposed for retaliating against whistleblowers. Earlier this month, Wells Fargo settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount with a former employee after the employee was fired three weeks after reporting illegal activity within the bank in 2011.
The employee had reported to the company’s ethics line that bankers in the Southern California branch were opening fraudulent accounts under customers’ names without their consent in order to meet sales goals. Once fired, the employee filed suit against Wells Fargo for and an investigation of the company ensued. The investigation found that fraudulent accounts had been opened for 3.5 million Wells Fargo customers without their knowledge and that the bank fired the employee in an attempt to keep the scandal out of the public eye.
Lawsuit after lawsuit, Wells Fargo pays for its mistake
Following the investigation, customers whose credit scores were hurt by the scandal fought back and settled a class-action lawsuit for $142 million in 2016. That same year Wells Fargo was ordered to pay the City and County of Los Angeles $185 million in regulatory fines to settle the case they had against the company.
Wells Fargo’s CEO resigned after the bank fired 5,300 midlevel bankers nationwide following the settlements. And, by 2020, Wells Fargo plans to shut down over 800 branches. Until then, it is unclear if the damage to the company’s reputation can be repaired and how the scandal as a whole will affect the trust that Americans have for banking institutions.