Bank of America to pay whistle-blower $930,000
The Labor Department ordered Bank of America (BAC) to reinstate and pay $930,000 to an employee, who was fired after reporting instances of possible fraud among Countrywide Financial Corp. employees. The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration division in San Francisco launched an investigation after a Los Angeles-based employee filed a complaint, claiming the lender violated a federal whistle-blower protection law. "It's clear from our investigation that Bank of America used illegal retaliatory tactics against this employee," said OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels. "This employee showed great courage reporting potential fraud and standing up for the rights of other employees to do the same." The employee worked for Countrywide, which Bank of America acquired in July 2008. The Labor Department claims the employee uncovered widespread fraud and tried to report it to the lender's employee relations department only to face retaliation and firing shortly after the two firms merged. "This case highlights the importance of defending employees against retaliation when they try to protect the public from the consequences of an employer's illegal activities," said Michaels. Write to Kerri Panchuk.