According to a recent class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo, the company “maintains a diversity scorecard which it uses to control hiring demographics via a quota system.” Quota systems are of dubious legality at best, and the class claims the system isn’t working.
The lead plaintiff says that after he was promoted as part of a “plan to increase diversity among [Wells Fargo’s] store managers,” he mostly experienced discrimination, retaliation and, ultimately, wrongful termination. He is African-American.
According to the complaint, the man was promoted to store manager in April 2014. By July, he had become concerned that another manager was discriminating against African-American employees in regards to pay.
He filed a complaint, then began to experience retaliation, according to the lawsuit. This came in the form of continual harassment, a static salary, six disciplinary write-ups — despite excellent performance — and several other attempts at discipline which were unsubstantiated.
In 2015, he received numerous performance awards. Nevertheless, he remained the lowest-paid store manager in his region. An area manager even apologized for the discrimination and retaliation he experienced that year.
To escape the situation, he applied for lateral transfers and promotions throughout the area but was rejected, he claims.
He began to suspect he had been “flagged” in his region — again, in retaliation. His suspicion seemed to be confirmed after he received a lateral transfer to another region. There, the lawsuit says, the first corrective action he was issued was labeled as a final warning.
Wells Fargo has said he was fired because he was ordered to complete a training, which he did not. The plaintiff points out that the training was not available until 2017 but he was ordered to complete it by Aug. 31, 2016.
He alleges his treatment violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other state and federal civil rights laws, and that there is a company-wide pattern and practice of discrimination and retaliation at Wells Fargo. The class is seeking an injunction against further illegality against African-Americans, along with punitive damages.
A spokesperson for Wells Fargo said the company was still reviewing the lawsuit but denied any wrongdoing. “Wells Fargo is committed to advancing diversity and social inclusion by helping ensure that all people across our workforce feel valued and respected, and have equal access to opportunities to succeed,” he said.
Wells Fargo is facing a number of scandals, including allegations of lending and foreclosure discrimination brought by Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami, Los Angeles and other cities.
If you think you are dealing with discrimination or retaliation, an employment lawyer can help you protect your rights while you determine what steps to take to address it.