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Wells Fargo settles allegations of discriminating against female, African American job applicants

Labor Department investigation found evidence of discrimination

A federal investigation found that Wells Fargo discriminated against thousands of African American and female job applicants based on their race and/or gender, the Department of Labor said this week.

The Labor Department announced this week that it reached a settlement with Wells Fargo over allegations of discrimination within bank’s hiring practices at locations in Arizona, Virginia, and Utah.

According to the Labor Department’s Office of Contract Compliance Program, an investigation found that in 2014, Wells Fargo’s Phone Bank Premier, Home Equity & Online Customer Service unit discriminated against 2,066 female applicants for positions as online customer service representatives in Glen Allen, Virginia, and Salt Lake City.

Additionally, the investigation found that Wells Fargo discriminated against 282 African American applicants for phone banker positions in Phoenix.

In doing so, Wells Fargo failed to comply with Executive Order 11246, which prohibits race and sex discrimination by federal contractors, the Labor Department said.

As part of the settlement with the Labor Department, Wells Fargo will pay $603,612 in back wages, interest and benefits to the affected applicants, but does not admit liability in the matter.

Wells Fargo must also make job offers to 66 of the original applicants (17 in Glen Allen, Virginia, 20 in Salt Lake City, and 29 in Phoenix) as positions become available.

Beyond that, Wells Fargo must “review and revise its selection process and provide better training to its hiring managers to eliminate practices that resulted in the violations,” the Labor Department said.

“Companies that accept federal contracts must monitor their hiring processes to ensure applicants are not rejected based on unlawful practices,” Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Regional Director Michele Hodge added.

As the Labor Department noted, Wells Fargo did not admit liability as part of the settlement. In fact, the bank “strongly disputes” the Labor Department’s allegations.

“We are pleased to reach this agreement with the OFCCP. While Wells Fargo strongly disputes the allegations, we believe that putting this matter behind us is in the best interest of all of our stakeholders,” a Wells Fargo spokesperson said in statement.

“The settlement relates to hiring practices that were in place five years ago. We have made fundamental changes to our hiring practices and processes to better identify successful employees and to ensure adherence to equal employment opportunity laws,” the spokesperson continued. “We are dedicated to recruitment and career development practices that support our team members and promote diversity in our workforce at all levels of our company. Wells Fargo values and promotes diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business.”

The settlement is the second legal issue for the bank in the last few days.

Wells Fargo also recently revealed that it set aside $1.6 billion to cover the cost of another potential settlement over the bank’s fake account scandal.

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