Labor Department launches “top-to-bottom” review of Wells Fargo

Answers call from eight senators to open investigation

Wells Fargo has its hands full these days.

The beleaguered megabank is already facing a $185 million fine for the recent fake account scandal, which subsequently led to ongoing investigations from the House Financial Services Committee and the Department of Justice, not to mention a rough appearance before the Senate Banking Committee for Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf.

Now, the bank is facing a thorough review of its labor practices after a group of eight senators called for the Department of Labor to investigate Wells Fargo for potential labor law violations stemming from the company’s “aggressive” sales culture.

Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, who made nationwide headlines with her questioning of Stumpf, along with Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont;  Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, sent a letter to Tom Perez, the Secretary of Labor, asking for an investigation into Wells Fargo.

On Monday, Perez responded to the senators’ request, stating that the Labor Department is launching a “top-to-bottom” review of Wells Fargo.

“Given the serious nature of the allegations, the recent actions of our Federal partners, and recent media reports, I have directed enforcement agencies within the Department to conduct a top-to-bottom review of cases, complaints, or violations concerning Wells Fargo over the last several years,” Perez said in a letter to Warren, a copy of which was obtained by HousingWire.

Perez also said the Labor Department takes the concerns raised by the senators, including Wells Fargo employees being forced to work overtime without receiving overtime pay, “very seriously.”

Perez said that the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division is currently “carefully reviewing” the issues raised by the senators, including its history of compliance actions with Wells Fargo, to determine the best course of action moving forward.

But that’s not all.

“In addition to our top-to-bottom review, the Department has taken other measures to ensure that all current and former Wells Fargo employees are aware of the worker protection laws under the Department’s jurisdiction,” Perez said.

To that end, the Labor Department set up a separate section on its website specifically for current and former Wells Fargo employees relaying their rights and potential courses of action if they feel that Wells Fargo violated labor laws.

In a statement, Warren said that she is pleased with the Labor Department’s response and called for other governmental entities to follow suit.

“I’m glad DOL is initiating a prompt and thorough agency-wide review of all cases, complaints, and violations implicating Wells Fargo over the past several years to determine whether the agency should bring additional claims against the bank,” Warren said. “Every other federal agency with jurisdiction in this matter should follow DOL’s lead and promptly determine whether Wells Fargo and its senior executives should be prosecuted or otherwise sanctioned.”

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