For more than a year, the House Financial Services Committee has investigated serious allegations of discrimination and retaliation against employees at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
CFPB employees have testified about serious and troubling instances of racial, gender and age discrimination they’ve suffered from CFPB managers and retaliation against employees who speak out about this unacceptable behavior.
CFPB Director Richard Cordray also testified at an earlier hearing and gave his personal assurance that this inexcusable and unacceptable behavior would stop.
“I am committed to ensuring that all Bureau employees are treated fairly and that they receive the respect and dignity they deserve.”
But now, in a hearing scheduled for Thursday morning, two more CFPB employees are bringing new evidence to the committee that discrimination and retaliation at the CFPB have gotten worse.
The first is Florine Williams, a career professional with over 20 years of Equal Employment Opportunity experience who currently serves as a Senior Equal Employment Specialist in the Office of Civil Rights at the CFPB.
“Ironically, the agency that was created to provide comprehensive consumer protections and strong remedies for consumer harm has unequivocally failed to protect its own employees and remedy the harms we have suffered…” she says in prepared testimony. “The level of unprofessional treatment and dysfunction that I have observed and endured has not only hurt me, but has hurt countless CFPB employees who would naturally look to an Office of Civil Rights for protection against discrimination.
“I am frequently approached by colleagues who tell me they are being subjected to maltreatment and discrimination but who fear they will face reprisal if they seek help through OCR’s EEO process,” Williams charges. “I cannot adequately describe the pervasive and chilling atmosphere that prevails throughout the CFPB.”
The second witness is Robert Cauldwell, a CFPB examiner who currently serves as President of the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 335 (which represents CFPB employees), where he says he observed widespread problems.
“Director Cordray’s inaction over the past year has created a more discriminatory, challenging, and intimidating workplace for CFPB employees,” Cauldwell says. “When employees file complaints, the CFPB reaches into their past to dig up irrelevant information and use it against them.
“The fear of retaliation is palpable. Even managers are scared to come forward. As long as this cesspool of poor behavior, discrimination, and retaliation continues, the CFPB will never be one of the best places in government to work,” he says in prepared remarks.