CFPB in the Spotlight For Unfair Employment Practices

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau might need to take a good, long look in the mirror after new data regarding the agency’s disparate employee rating patterns were made public. 

The CFPB models itself as a white knight guarding consumers against unfair lending and financial practices—including what it calls “disparate impact”—but the tables have turned with significant disparities revealed in how managers rank employees by race. 

“Specifically, CFPB managers show a pattern of ranking white employees distinctly better than minorities in performance reviews used to grant raises and issue bonuses,” the American Banker reported after obtaining confidential agency data. “Overall, whites were twice as likely in 2013 to receive the agency’s top grade than were African-American or Hispanic employees, the data shows.”

The CFPB rates its staffers on a scale of 1 to 5. Employees with the highest ratings are granted better benefits such as raises or bonuses compared to those with rankings on the lower end of the scale.

Nearly three quarters (74.6%) of Caucasians received 4 or 5 ratings, according to the 2013 data American Banker obtained, compared to 65.5% of Asians, 65.2% of Hispanics, and 57.6% of African-Americans. 

“The discrepancies were even greater at the ratings range’s extremes,” the news outlet notes. “At the top, one-fifth of white employees, or 20.7%, received a 5—and were dubbed ‘role models’—compared with 10.5% of African-Americans and 9.1% of Hispanics.”

Meanwhile, 42% of blacks, 34.5% of Asians, 34.8% of Hispanics, and 24.4% of whites received 3 ratings, the lowest grade given out in high volume. 

“The statistics themselves do not prove that CFPB managers are discriminating intentionally against minority employees,” says American Banker. “Yet they do indicate that racial disparities can be just as easily identified within the CFPB’s ranks as among the lenders the bureau regulates.”

For its part, the CFPB says it’s still analyzing performance evaluation data, which could change in the event of reviews and appeals. 

“The CFPB is committed to fairness and equity in the workplace as well as the marketplace,” said Sam Gilford said, CFPB spokesman. “Just as we often remind lenders that strong compliance management systems are critical to ensure compliance with consumer protection laws, the bureau has taken a compliance management approach in monitoring and evaluating its own performance rating process.”

Since August 2013, the CFPB’s 1,110 employees have filed 115 official grievances with the National Treasury Employees Union, most of which pertain to allegations of unequal pay, or raise questions about recent performance reviews, the article says. 

Read more at American Banker. 

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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